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North Korea to Dismantle Nuclear Site in Public Ceremony; Is Trump Keeping His "Drain the Swamp" Promise?; McCain: Haspel's Refusal to Acknowledge Torture's Immorality is Disqualifying; Midterm Jitters. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired May 13, 2018 - 08:00   ET



[08:00:29] JOHN KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): An emotional homecoming.

Next, a summit test of North Korea's goodwill.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a chance at something really great for the world.

KING: Plus, the swamp on steroids. Trump fixer Michael Cohen cashes in.

MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: Michael Cohen should not be selling access to the president of the United States.

KING: And a values debate. A top prosecutor accused of beating women White House aide mocks Senator John McCain and the president's picked to lead the CIA will not call waterboarding immoral.

GINA HASPEL, CIA DIRECTOR NOMINEE: The CIA follows the law. We followed the law then, we follow the law today.

KING: INSIDE POLITICS, the biggest stories sourced by the best reporters, now.


KING: Welcome to INSIDE POLITCS. I'm John King. To our viewers in the United States and around the world, thank you for sharing your Sunday.

Korea makes another dramatic announcement, promising now to dismantle a nuclear test site and to let the world watch. The Trump White House welcomes more goodwill, but promises conservative skeptics it won't be fooled.


HEATHER NAUERT, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: This administration has made more progress in the past eight weeks on North Korea than other administrations have in the past eight years. We think we are on the right footing. We are on the right track. But still, we go into this clear-eyed and realistic. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Plus, the parallel presidency at a giant moment on the world stage, new legal challenges swirl around team Trump. New top gun Rudy Giuliani keeps making messes and the president's longtime right-hand man under scrutiny now for selling access.


AVENATTI: I don't believe that Mr. Trump had no idea what Michael Cohen was doing, had no idea what he was up to for the better part of from January of 2017 up through April of this year.


KING: And the values debate roils Washington, a question about the morality of torture and a tasteless attack on an ailing senator, just a stupid White House staffer or a climate of rudeness and disrespect inspired by the president himself.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDRES, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Certainly, there is not a tone set here. We have a respect for all Americans and that is what we try to put forward in everything we do both in word and in action, focusing on doing things that help every American in this country every single day. And I think if you look at the policies we've put forth, you'll see that reflected.


KING: With us this Sunday to share their reporting and their insights, Karoun Demirjian of "The Washington Post", CNN's Manu Raju, Michael Shear of "The New York Times", and CNN's Kaitlan Collins.

We begin a packed hour on the world stage. The United States will open its new embassy in Jerusalem, Monday, tomorrow. The latest upheaval in a world dealing with Trump disruption just about everywhere you look -- protests in the streets of Iran this weekend, just part of the fallout from the president's decision this past week to walk away from the Obama era nuclear deal. Israel and Iran now testing each other with rockets and warplanes.

And "Ders Spiegel", look here, captures Europe's take on the Trump presidency, and the Trump doctrine.

Yet the president and his team see their world view as 20/20 and offer the latest gestures from Pyongyang as proof -- three Americans freed from North Korean imprisonment to start last week and promises now to halt surprise missile tests and to dismantle a nuclear test site to end the week.

This president determined to be very, very different from his predecessor, though there is one comparison he welcomes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Do you deserve the Nobel Prize, do you think?

TRUMP: Everyone thinks so, but I would never say it. Do you know what I want to do? I want to get it finished. The prize I want is victory for the world. Not for even here, I want victory for the world, because that's what we're talking about. So, that's the only prize I want.


KING: It's another remarkable Sunday morning. We have a tumultuous week behind us, a big one ahead, including the opening of this embassy in which has the Palestinians furious. I think one of the most interesting subplots though is we're not hearing vocal criticism from other Arab partners. They -- a lot of them have almost given up on the Palestinians and they're more worried about other things at the moment like Iran.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, I mean, this has been -- look, that's been the state of play and the Middle East for a very long time and that's why the Palestinians --


KING: But publicly, normally, this would become -- this to become a PR ploy normally and it's more much more quiet than you would think.

DEMIRJIAN: Because -- right, there are a bigger fish to fry in Syria. There a bigger fish to fry In Iran right now, and we keep coupling cacophony on cacophony and thing upon thing, and the Middle East cannot handle every single problem at the same time.

[08:05:02] Look, it's probably going to be -- you're going to see demonstrations happening around the opening of the embassy, it happens the day before Israeli independence day/not good day (ph), like that's always a very tense time anyway in that part though in that Israel- Palestine part of the world.

But, yes, when you have missiles flying in over Syria and striking Iranian sites and then Iran an upheaval because of the deal there's a lot more to actually try to settle with and deal with and nobody wants, including the people in Middle East do not want more conflagration than they have to deal with right now, and there are all kinds of things that could spark further unrest, further discord for their war and there's not the bandwidth for that if you want to have a semi-functional place to live which, you know?

KING: The president will address the opening by videotape. His daughter Ivanka, her husband Jared, a senior White House adviser, there for the ceremony. This is again -- it's an important move for the president. It's a campaign promise, he keeps saying I'm keeping my promises.

But it's also -- this is a White House again when you look at North Korea, when you look at Iran nuclear Iran nuclear deal, there's some skepticism on the North Korea side, a lot of criticism on the Iran side, it's a White House that's determined to say, hey, we're right.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, and the president is doing what he said he was going to do by withdrawing from the Iran deal, but we are seeing a foreign policy shift in the White House because John Bolton, the new national security adviser, is wielding a lot of influence right now. And so, we're seeing people like the Defense Secretary James Mattis kind of not sidelined but his influence has certainly diminished some because of people like John Bolton being elevated in the White House.

And you have to consider also that Mattis has lost Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, someone who he often agreed with and even to a lesser extent the former national security adviser H.R. McMaster. So, Mike Pompeo, the new secretary of state, is going to be in a very interesting role we're going to see where he fits in in between Pompeo and our excuse me and between Bolton and Mattis in the upcoming months and how this affects foreign policy going forward for the rest of the Trump administration.

KING: And to that end, and stay with us, John Bolton is a guest on "STATE OF THE UNION", after our program this morning, so you don't have missed that.

To that end, the president tweeting yesterday another "thank you" to North Korea which -- be skeptical and then be more skeptical -- but North Korea is showing its goodwill. At the moment, North Korea has announced they will dismantle nuclear test site this month ahead of big summit meeting on June 12th, thank you, a very smart and gracious gesture -- that from the president of the United States.

One of the things that was interesting this past week again North Korea, it's a PR stunt in some ways. Why this should have taken these people prisoner to begin with but they released the three Americans. And listen to the president's tone, this is what got a lot of conservatives nervous, is the president suddenly too friendly, too kind to Kim Jong-un.


TRUMP: We want to thank King Jong Un, who really was excellent to these incredible people. We very much appreciate that he allowed them to go before the meeting. He was nice in letting them go before the meeting.

This is a wonderful thing that he released the folks early. That was a big thing. Very important to me.


KING: The White House team would say the president's just trying to keep the goodwill, keep Kim Jong-un leaning forward if you will into the summit. Critics would say this is a regime and this dictator a person starves his own people, has fired missiles over Japan and South Korea. It's not somebody you call excellent and nice.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Yes, and I was talking with a lot of members of Congress about this after those remarks and Republicans who generally are supportive of this president were taken aback. Their concern that his eyes might not be wide open walking into these negotiations, even as the administration says they're very -- they understand that this is a regime you can't necessarily trust.

Though, you know, I think there was a lot to be said about whether or not North Korea is in a position of strength going into these talks. Look, they're the ones who tested a nuclear weapon last year. They're the ones who held Americans hostage and release them and they've gotten an audience with the president the United States.

The ultimate question is, what do they agree to do in exchange for easing sanctions and do they go to the full extent of denuclearizing, which means a lot different to what Kim undoubtedly views this differently than what a lot of folks in Washington ultimately agree with.

MICHAEL SHEAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: And look at the stakes for this meeting with Kim Jong-un. You know if you look at the three things that we've talked about North Korea, Iran and the sort of Palestinian-Israeli situation, both in Iran where yes he's pulled back on the JCPOA but like the uncertainty about where Iran goes on its nuclear, you know, nuclear power and nuclear weapons is very uncertain that the Palestinian-Israeli situation is not anywhere close to being resolved and despite what they would like you to believe with the embassy.

And so, that puts all the stakes on the North Korea situation and it makes people worry that perhaps he's going to agree to a deal that is not the sort of great deal that he always describes for the United States.

DEMIRJIAN: And also, I mean, the question is how much visibility do we have into what Kim Jong-un's ultimate goal is here right. I mean, is it he's shutting down nuclear reactor with intentions of never doing anything anywhere else in the country, but this is a high- profile stunt?

[08:10:04] Or is this a high-profile stunt, and then also, you know, is he trying to still be the strong man later a very reclusive country or join the league of nations and be a player on the world stage? And can he even?

North Korea is not an economic superpower. You could make that argument about Iran, it's hard to make it about North Korea. And so, we don't really know what the end game is here on the other side or at least --


KING: And to the "we don't know" part, here we are in the second spring of the Trump presidency if you will in the world is still trying to figure out this president, to constantly, just like he does here at home -- we're about to get to some of those issues -- disrupts. He constantly disrupts and he constantly enjoys being the center of the conversation. I don't know if we can bring it back, the "Ders Spiegel" cover does capture the sense in Europe, the president pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal. That was negotiated during the Obama administration, with the help of European allies in Europe feels like once again this president is giving it the cover of the magazine is the middle finger middle, middle digit if you haven't figured that out.

Former President George W. Bush who rarely speaks back in Washington this week not being specific but seems to be trying to tell the president: think again.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: America is indispensable for the world and the dangers of isolation looming. The price of greatness is responsibilities. One cannot rise to be in many ways the leading community in the civilized world without being involved in his problems. People the United States cannot escape world responsibility.


KING: Remember, remember, George W. Bush himself, go back to the "axis of evil" days, I was covering the White House in those days he was criticized, he was criticized around the world for being too a little puffy chest about America and saying, you know, you're with us or against us and yet here he is telling, you know, President Trump, you know, you kind of keep these alliances. You got to work at it.

DEMIRJIAN: People have criticized the Bush administration are being too interventionist in many parts of the world and if we're talking about the opposite potential now with Trump, there's got to be a happy medium someplace in between. So, it's almost like, you know, the voice from the great beyond, being like don't, you know, don't go that part over slash you know learned in the mistake --


RAJU: I think Bush -- a lot of people in this town to agree with Republicans who agree with George Bush's view of the world then Trump's view of the world. And that's is -- this is the debate that's raging inside the Republican Party right now. They're still trying to figure out exactly where Trump -- what Trump's foreign policy vision actually is, especially in light of these new folks that he's putting in his administration, as Kaitlan mentioned, John Bolton.

KING: Well, to the point about Bolton, he was a provocative voice within the George W. Bush administration, not always loved in the West Wing, sometimes -- we'll see how that -- say the least, OK. We'll see how that one plays out.

Up next for us, we bring you to the home front. Michael Cohen embraces the swamp, and the feds are now trying to follow the money.

And this week's politicians say the darnedest things, a commencement reflection from the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the Russia meddling investigation and drawing constant fire from the president and the president's allies.


ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: There's no point in wasting your time complaining about the random events. The key to living a life of integrity is to take ownership of the consequential decisions. The philosopher Richard Bach wrote, that you should live your life so that you will never be ashamed if anything you do or say is published around the world, even if it is cast in a false light. Wherever life takes you, conduct your own affairs with integrity, so will never need to look back with regret.




[08:17:19] TRUMP: It is time to drain the swamp in Washington, D.C.

We will drain the swamp.

We have begun to drain the swamp.



KING: The president bragged this past week that walking away from the Iran deal is proof he keeps his campaign promises. Well, the Michael Cohen saga is by the day proving there are giant exceptions like draining the swamp.

New top Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani says the president didn't know what his personal attorney Michael Cohen was doing. Those who know the Trump-Cohen relationship and its history roll their eyes at that, and we know the special counsel is now interested in some of this. Is selling access illegal? Sometimes yes, often no. In any event, draining the swamp -- this is not.

As CNN politics reported Thursday, according to multiple people familiar with Cohen's conduct following the election, he aggressively pitched himself to potential clients reminding them of his proximity to the most powerful man in the world. Those efforts landed Cohen lucrative consulting deals.

Quote: I don't know who's been representing you but you should fire them I'm the guy you should hire. I'm closest to the president. I'm his personal lawyer -- was how one GOP strategist described Cohen's pitch.

It's swampy on steroids. It's unsavory. You read these stories and you want to take a shower about how this town sadly, sadly still works and has worked.

What is the question of legality Michael Cohen sitting on his phone telling companies, send me money, I will give you my Trump wisdom? The American people don't like. It it's actually one of the reasons Donald Trump elected president. They didn't think Hillary Clinton would change this town. In this regard, Donald Trump hasn't for all the things he has trained.

What is the illegality question?

RAJU: Well, I think that's, what, the Mueller team is figure out in also trying to figure out whether there was any official action taken on behalf of any of these paying clients or any of these -- if this has any connection at all to perhaps this for me Daniel's payment in November that Michael Cohen or that happened and right before the election in 2016 that Michael Cohen paid. It's uncertain.

What we do know is that the special counsel has interviewed some of these companies and their involvement with Michael Cohen. So, the question is, what do they have?

KING: And a separate federal investigation to in the Southern District of New York, the special counsel has questions that which is related to Russia meddling and this Southern District of New York looking at more broadly his business and whether there's corruption there, he -- the people who don't understand how close he was to the president, the question is how close is he now?

COLLINS: Right. I think these revelations are not surprising to anyone. Michael Cohen is someone who has tied his career to Donald Trump for the better part of a decade.

[08:20:00] But AT&T paying him hundreds of thousands of dollars not for his insights into mergers or the antitrust division, they're paying him for his insights into the president. But it does raise the question of just how close they are?

"The New York Times" recently wrote a very devastating piece about their relationship and how it's not as chummy as everyone likes to portray. That actually President Trump is really dismissive of him and insulting of him.

KING: He uses him to fix messes.

COLLINS: Exactly, but that's the raise another question, then why does the president of United States have a fixer? A fixer in no situation is fixing anything good or savory or anything of that matter. So, that should also be a concern but not whether it's legal but the fact that our president has a fixer is of concern.

KING: And on the fixer front, Rudy Giuliani was brought in to allegedly to fix the chaos or the disorder in the president's legal team. And it's the old one. I said this before, if the first rule of holes, stop digging. And Rudy Giuliani keeps saying things that the president that has to have him go back out and clean up.

And he says this about the idea of the possibility of an interview with Robert Mueller, the special counsel: if we were convinced it would speed up the process, we may do it. If we believe they would go into it honestly and with an open mind, we would be inclined to do it. But right now, we're not there. Our understanding is that it's pretty -- he's pretty much finished as far as we know, we're basically the last witness.

Now, does Rudy Giuliani have the actual insights for us to accept that as fact that Mueller's down to the last couple of conversations and wants the president to be the wrap-up?

SHEAR: I don't think so. I mean, I -- nothing that Rudy Giuliani has offered us in the last few weeks suggests that he is a sort of disciplined has very specific knowledge that there that he's offering.

The interesting thing to me that that occurred to me in the last couple of days is that if you look at Michael Avenatti, that's Stormy Daniels's lawyer, he's essentially a lawyer but he's serving as a troll, right? He's trolling President Trump, but in an incredibly disciplined way, an incredibly kind of strategic and tactical way, and I think that's what the president had hoped Rudy Giuliani would be, would be the sort of counter troll to Michael Avenatti, but it's -- but it's not working out because he's not disciplined, because he runs his mouth on all sorts of things that he doesn't know about.

Is Donald Trump the last witness or not? We don't know. He probably doesn't know. He doesn't know the details of the case, so he gets himself in trouble and that's the problem.

KING: And this plays out as we wait -- and we don't know how long we'll have to wait for legal reports from Robert Mueller, maybe more cases, maybe just a written report.

What do we make of this from the vice president of the United States? We are approaching the one-year mark. You can expect the president's critics to say Bob Mueller, you've had a year, it's time to go. But do we expect it to come from the vice president?


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's been about a year since this investigation began. Our administration has provided over a million documents we fully cooperated in it and in the interest of the country, I think it's time to wrap it up and I would very respectfully encourage the special counsel and his team to bring their work to completion.


KING: How about, Andrea, I'm the vice president United States, I shouldn't talk about these things?


DEMIRJIAN: There's that, but there's a lot of people that aren't doing the greatest job of fully recusing themselves from things that they should probably be more fully recusing themselves from, whether we're talking about just there's open questions around what everybody's saying about from the president, to the vice president, the attorney general, to the CIA director nominee. I mean, this is a general thing of people were not that good about saying here's my ethical line and I am going to go really hard and faster but it's beyond reproach.

There's also just the matter of you know, I have no idea if Mueller is done with the Trump interview, but it's a fair guess that if you're actually kind of building your case towards the center of the Oval Office that you wouldn't want to you know do that interview before you had all your stuff, so maybe they feel like this is a way to kind of play chicken with the interview or you know keep it from getting to what may be a final conclusion, I don't know. But they're not --

RAJU: Giuliani said that this would be wrapped up in two weeks.

DEMIRJIAN: Right, right.

RAJU: That was, what, two weeks ago?


KING: Yes, and if he operates by a different calendar, Manu. It's Rudy time.

DEMIRJIAN: The point is, there were no timing on stopping (ph) and they're not going to stop (ph).

KING: All right. Well, up next for us here from be best to worst on the same week at the same White House. Melania Trump urges adults to set the best example and a White House staffer mocks a war hero senator fighting brain cancer.


[08:28:28] KING: Welcome back.

It was a question about post-9/11 values, post to the president's choice to lead the CIA that started it all.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I'm not asking, do you believe they were legal? I'm asking, do you believe they were immoral?

GINA HASPEL, CIA DIRECTOR NOMINEE: Senator, I believe that CIA did ordinary work to prevent another attack on this country given the legal tools that we were authorized to use.

HARRIS: So, answer yes or no, do you believe in hindsight that those techniques were immoral?

HASPEL: Senator, what I believe sitting here today is that I support the higher moral standard we have decided to hold ourselves to.

HARRIS: Please answer the question.

HASPEL: Senator, I think I've answered the question.

HARRIS: No, you've not.


KING: That was that for Senator John McCain. He's home in Arizona dealing with brain cancer and its complications. But he issued a statement saying Gina Haspel should not be confirmed as CIA director if she cannot, as she didn't write there, explicitly label as immoral the waterboarding and other extreme interrogation tactics used in the months after 9/11.

McCain's positions shook up the Haspel confirmation math, but White House aide Kelly Sadler told colleagues, it doesn't matter McCain is dying anyway. That awful comment leaked out in minutes. The ailing senator's friends and family reacting as you would expect with disgust.

Days later, the president has said nothing.

[08:29:49] The press secretary who takes her cues from the President won't apologize and lashed out at her team for sharing a private meeting with reporters. That's telling.

To Team Trump the issue here is more the leak than the tasteless smear of a war hero and lifetime public servant.


MICK MULVANEY, WHITE HOUSE BUDGET DIRECTOR: I think the remarks are awful but let's look at this in context. That was said in a private meeting inside the White House. I'm really disappointed that someone would undermine the President by leaking that out of a private meeting.


KING: So to go back to another story out of the White House -- you don't have to be best if you are in a private meeting. You can do this?

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: You can say despicable things as long as you don't think somebody is listening to you. Yes, that stretches and strains the imagination, I think, especially when you're talking about John McCain who's somebody who people on both sides of the aisle have a tremendous amount of respect for, even if they don't agree with him.

And yes, ok fine, McCain and the President have had serious differences. McCain doesn't want Trump showing up at his funeral. There's a whole bunch of bad, bad, bad blood there but to ok presaging somebody's death.

And frankly it doesn't matter -- if you want to be really, really technical about it McCain not being there is not the issue. It's that people are listening to him and changing their votes because of that. So it's actually incorrect on top of being rather tasteless.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: This is just a pattern for this White House. They do something that is condemned on both sides of the aisle and rather than apologizing and move on they dig in.

Thursday night when this broke, they could have issued a statement apologizing and it would have been a one -- two-hour story. Instead they refused to apologize. Sarah Sanders would not apologize and wouldn't dignify questions about it.

And it's Sunday and it is still a story because of the way that the White House handles things and it is a distraction for their message going forward.

KING: In part, what would happen then if they apologize for this then you would get -- is the President going to apologize for this and for this and for this and for this and for this and for this? And we could go on for a long time about things candidate Trump and even President Trump has said.

The former Vice President Joe Biden -- he's a friend of John McCain -- said people have wondered when decency would hit rock bottom in this administration. It happened yesterday. "This staffer is not the exception to the rule. She is the epitome of it."

I want you to listen here -- again, to Karoun's point John McCain has friends with both sides of the aisle. One of his closest friends in the United States Senate is Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.


SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It's a pretty disgusting thing to say. If it was a joke it was a terrible joke. I just wish somebody from the White House would tell the country that was inappropriate. That is not who we are. And the Trump administration --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should the President himself apologize?

GRAHAM: I will leave that up to him. But if something happened like that in my office, somebody in my office said such a thing about somebody I would apologize on behalf of the office.


KING: Why is it so hard? And this is one of the things when you talk to voters -- I just got to Indiana, week before last, and especially suburban women like I like the tax cuts. I like this policy and that policy. It's this kind of stuff -- the meanness, the rudeness, the insensitivity that turns them off to this president.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: This will be remembered -- and Kelly Sadler is a grown woman with a taxpayer funded job who made this remark about someone who is not only a senator but served the country in Vietnam and has brain cancer. But I don't think her comment is a reflection of people inside the White House just because she made this remark.

I think what is a reflection of this White House is that they won't even acknowledge that she made the remark, they won't apologize for it, and they think the problem is that some staffer was clearly also offended by this revealed it to someone in the media.

They didn't leak. It is a conversation -- revealing a conversation is not leaking something it's just revealing what was said. She said something terrible. If you don't want what you said to be covered at length and criticized then don't say something like that.

KING: Right. The continued internal rivalries in the administration is a whole separate story but on this particular issue this is one of the reasons people hate politics.

And in the same week, again, you have the CIA director nominee asked about a chapter in American history that some find very sad and some find the debate about exaggerates saying post 9/11, you know, the country did this thing but it's a conversation they're trying to have there, it ends up this about McCain.

In the very same week you have on the front page of the New York tabloids a rising star in the Democratic Party, the attorney general of the state of New York has to resign because this self-styled champion of the Me Too Movement turns out he is credibly accused of beating and choking women. This is one of the reasons that people just get disgusted with politics because they see a lot of meanness, rudeness and hypocrisy.

MICHAEL SHEAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": You know, the interesting thing -- it's hard to imagine a political consultant, you know, deciding that not apologizing and not getting past this is the sort of better political thing to do for his or her client.

But it's possible that that is what is happening beyond President Trump's own personal aversion to apologies. He doesn't want to apologize for other things that they are sort of taking stock of their base and understanding that what some people see as meanness and anger, much of his base see it as not giving in to the political correctness of the left and not giving in to the, you know, sort of, you know, people who aren't, you know, tough enough and whatever.

So they don't want to see any weakness in this president and there is a political calculation being made.

[08:34:58] KING: One would hope that respect and common decency don't have to have partisan labels attached to them. And so I just want to try this on a Sunday morning -- maybe as the White House refuses to apologize, refuses to clean this up, maybe just for once they should listen to the other Trump.


MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Let us teach our children the difference between right and wrong. It is our responsibility as adults to educate and remind them that when they are using their voices, whether verbally or online, they must choose words wisely and speak with respect and compassion.


KING: That was Monday. That was Monday. "Choose their words wisely and speak with respect and compassion". Amen -- couldn't agree more. Didn't happen.

RAJU: Yes. And you're seeing this. Again -- this is a pattern. They will say perhaps say one thing and then actions are much different. They can easily clean this up with a simple apology and move on.


COLLINS: Kelly Sadler should take the First Lady's advice.

KING: This is Trump. Good luck. Good luck. Good luck.

Up next, Republicans feel a bit better about the 2018 midterm landscape but facing internal revolt from some moderates who want to stir up a major GOP divide and have, yes, an election year debate about immigration.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Beautiful red hats, those beautiful red hats. Boy, oh boy. And I like the white ones, too. Make America great again. Lift those whites up there.


KING: The President loves his rallies and Indiana is Trump country. The President always the big issue in the mid term election year though this president wants voters to think again and maybe choose other villains.


TRUMP: Nancy Pelosi said yesterday she wants to end the tax cuts and raise your taxes. I said tell me, is that like good politics?

If Joe Donnelly, Sleeping Joe -- and the Democrats get back into power they will raise your taxes. He wants to raise your taxes. They will destroy your jobs and they are going to knock the hell out of your borders.


KING: the President having fun there in Indiana. Indiana senate race one of this year's defining contests. The Republicans need a win to protect or perhaps expand their Senate majority -- that's a paramount GOP goal given that the House is at risk. Now, the national climate still favors Democrats but the mid-May outlook is a bit better for the GOP. They avoided some land mines, for example in last week's primaries. And the President's standing, while still historically low, take a peek -- trending up a bit of late on big issues like the economy and foreign policy and immigration.

So here we are now -- we're in May. And one of the issues is most members of the House especially want to just pass government funding bills, keep the doors open, go home and campaign.

We had in this past week an effort by some more moderate Republicans, most of them from districts that Hillary Clinton carried in the presidential election saying let's bring the Dreamer Bill, the DACA bill -- an immigration bill that will give status to the dreamers up on the floor of the House. The House Speaker said no, no, no, no, no -- this is not how we do things around here. They are trying to protect themselves -- right. Is that -- will it happen?

RAJU: They may be able to force a vote. I mean it is possible this is a very unusual effort. It's rare that you are able to circumvent the wishes of the majority leader, the speaker by doing this effort known as a discharge petition where you can get 218 signatures. They're essentially, of course, a vote on the floor on an issue like this.

But there are those moderate Republicans who are joining with Democrats to get enough support to force a vote. The speaker is resisting this. His argument has been well, this is not going to become law so what is the point? But they passed a lot of bills that are not going to become law so a lot of people are saying why not just allow the vote. And the reason why is because this is an issue that is very divisive within its conference and this is not the message that they want to be pushing in an election year.

DEMIRJIAN: It also potentially undermines the President's position, as well. And that makes it extra complicated because even if -- I mean everybody is saying they will never get through. But there actually are the votes for some sort of immigration bill if it can get on the floor of both the House and the Senate most likely because again the country has shifted in the last time that were doing this and towards a more open-minded view of how we should be conducting our immigration policy.

But you've got a person in the White House that's directly saying no and only wanting the wall and that is setting up a giant clash in the GOP that would -- to Manu's point --

KING: And we saw that frustration mounting (INAUDIBLE) the President berating his Homeland Security Secretary at a cabinet meeting. Berating her saying she's not doing enough.

Congress passes the money -- they found enough money to build the wall. He is saying where is my wall, where's my wall -- berating her about border security.

The President is saying he wants to sign a bill protecting the dreamers. But that's not his tone in the election year where he is being told this is about the base -- Mr. President. Talk about immigration, be tough, be a hardliner.

John McCain in his new book writing this, he wants to have these issues debated. Remember he was part of the Kennedy-Bush-McCain bill that gave path to citizenship to all 11 million. "But most of all because it is something this country needs to do now in this political moment as old fears and animosities that have blighted our history appear to be on the rise again, exploited by opportunists who won't trouble their careers or their consciences with scruples about honesty or compassion for their fellow man."

It is hard not to take that as another shot from Senator McCain at the President of the United States.

[08:44:51] SHEAR: It's a direct shot. And in fact, the frustration that boiled up in that cabinet meeting when President Trump spent almost a half an hour railing against, not only his Homeland Security Secretary but his entire cabinet for their failures in his view to sort of shut the borders down and keep people out.

It's not just the wall. It is a whole set of immigration policies that really kind of upend the last 40 years or 50 years of where this country has kind of been in terms of opening to the world and welcoming people in whether they be amnesty -- for amnesty or refugees. And he needs congress for that and his intense frustration to both put up a wall and to change the laws is that they won't do it.

KING: And in the middle of this, forgive me, I just want to stick this in -- in the middle of this, I'm Boston Irish -- a slightly older Boston Irish most of us came here not that educated for, you know, hard work with our hands. John Kelly offering his view on who the United States should let it.


JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Let me step back and tell you that the vast majority of the people that move illegally into the United States are not bad people. They are not criminals. They're not MS-13.

But they are also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States. They are overwhelmingly rural people, in the countries they come from 4th, 5th, 6th grade educations are kind of the norm.


COLLINS: Overwhelmingly rural.


COLLINS: I was not surprised at these comments. We have seen John Kelly say things like this whether in public or privately to lawmakers before sot they weren't exactly surprising. And he certainly doesn't disagree with the President on this. They are in lockstep on that.

But immigration has definitely reached a boiling point in the White House which is evidenced by the President.

KING: If you want to have a conversation about need-based, economy- based immigration is a more compassionate way to do it, I think.

Our reporters share from their notebooks next including big soccer news that's also big political news.


KING: Let's head one last time around the INSIDE POLITICS and ask our great reporters to share a little something from their notebooks and help get you out ahead of the big political news just around the corner. Karoun.

DEMIRJIAN: So on the ongoing saga of the various Russia probes we are heading towards a potential war of the intelligence committees on Capitol Hill this week. That's because the Senate Intelligence Committee is supposed to put out its assessment of whether it agrees with the intelligence community's assessment that Russia tried to meddle in the 2016 election specifically with the intention of trying to aid President Trump.

The House put out its report saying -- no, no, no, no, no, we don't think they followed best practices. And we haven't seen what the Senate is going to say yet but Burr has been kind of teasing at it saying look, the House didn't have to substantiate every conclusion with facts.

If they decide differently, that really complicates this political position that the House Republicans have been trying to establish of nothing to see here, no coordination, don't ask any questions. And really sets up a clash in the GOP of how we're actually going to approach what happened and what we are going to do going forward.

KING: Can't wait. Manu.

RAJU: John -- at last week's confirmation hearing for Gina Haspel, a big fight came over her role in 2005 in the destruction of interrogation tapes, something that she said that she was ordered to do and it was something that was ordered by her superiors but she acknowledged being an advocate for that.

Well, a special prosecutor at the time in 2005 investigated this and did not come forward with any charges but detailed what happened there including her role. That report, known as the Durham (ph) Report has only been available for members of the Senate Intelligence Committee in a classified setting.

There's a push by some Democrats -- Martin Heinrich as well as Jeff Flake to allow the full Senate access to that report. Not I'm told that it paints her in a rather unflattering light so some critics are hoping that more Senators will see this, perhaps someone who's on the fence will change their mind or decide to vote against her over her role in this episode.

Still, nevertheless her chances of confirmation seem pretty assured at the moment, probably narrowly will get confirmed. And no word yet from the Justice Department who's going to make that decision about whether the full Senate should have access to that report.

KING: We'll keep an eye on that. Michael.

SHEAR: A little sports news today. Last week the United States government spent FIFA, the world soccer organization a letter saying that they would not ban the soccer teams from coming into the United States because of President Trump's travel ban if the United States gets the World's Cup in 2026.

Now, they did say, the government did say that if an individual soccer player needed to be restricted from the United States they could still do that but wouldn't ban whole teams if the travel ban is in place.

It is an interesting softening of the President's rhetoric which has been pretty hard line on the travel ban. The decision on the World Cup by FIFA comes in mid June and that will happen right before the Supreme Court decides whether travel ban is constitutional so stay tuned for that.

KING: Love it when we get a little sports into politics. It's all good. Kaitlan.

COLLINS: I think something that got missed in the 50 million news stories this week was John Kelly's strained relationship with the media that was once again on display after that NPR interview where he had to correct himself from saying the President was embarrassed by the Russia investigation to saying it was simply a distraction.

We saw this before in his last interview with Fox when he said that the President's views on immigration had evolved and the President quickly got into it and said no they haven't.

And John Kelly also told this very interesting story that I am deeply skeptical of where he said that there was this reporter that came to him and said, essentially you are our worst nightmare because you have instilled order in the West Wing and stopped all of these leaks from coming out of there which if you have been watching the news in the last six months, no, that is simply not true.

So it is very interesting to see how John Kelly views himself in the West Wing compared with how the people who cover the White House see him.

KING: Parallel universe in a parallel presidency -- ok.

I will close with a question. Can a small businesswoman from Michigan succeed where leading Republican members of Congress have failed? The Trump administration holds public hearings this week on its proposed steel and aluminum tariffs. And among the witnesses is Mary Buchzeiger. She's the CEO of Lucerne International. That's in Oakland County, Michigan.

Lucerne takes Asian steel and finishes it into parts for U.S. automakers, think of those flashy hinges on a Jeep Wrangler. She is a Republican, calls President Trump "my president". But she says these tariffs would kill her business just as it plans to add 10 or 12 more jobs to its current 50.

[08:55:06] She's all for getting tougher with China but Buchzeiger says the Trump plan is not smartly drafted and seems to target her company. She hopes the President will listen to her testimony and remember his Michigan win and then reconsider the trade policies.

We'll see how that goes.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Again -- thanks for sharing your Sunday morning.

Happy Mother's Day to the mothers out there.

Hope you can catch us week days as well right here noon Eastern.

Up next, "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper. Don't go anywhere. He'll be sitting down with the new White House national security advisor, John Bolton.

Have a great day.