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Kushner Gives Rare Speech At Opening Of U.S. Embassy; Supreme Court Lets States Legalize Sports Gambling; White House Aide Promised Public Apology For McCain Remark. Aired 12:30-1pm ET

Aired May 14, 2018 - 12:30   ET


[12:30:02] JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHIE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: --but he rarely speaks. But just his portfolio as we're talking earlier has just shrunken so much since the beginning. He used to hold briefings with reporters. He used to be very visible. He just simply isn't anymore, and largely because of the Russian investigation and other things. He has a lot more --

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: It is -- forgive me for interrupting. It is -- how much of it is -- forgive me. He's a guy from the real estate community --


KING: -- who was put into a very sensitive job in the White House, told to be an intermediary with Mexico of the NAFTA conversations are going now where, told to be an intermediary with Saudi Arabia. You might say that's one area what the president think he is -- he's making some progress. I don't know you -- please tell me if you could find the Jared Kushner's fingerprints there, but that is one area.

Israeli Palestinian peace process, going backwards if anywhere. Its not -- at least it's not going forward. And the opioid crisis then you mentioned during the break criminal justice reform. Some progress on Capitol Hill on those how much of it is because Jared Kushner is in, you know, dotting the I's, crossing the T's and twisting the R's?

SEUNG MIN KIM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, I mean --Remember, I mean he's very much involved in that issue, but criminal justice reform had been a bipartisan issue on Capitol Hill before Trump came into office and he has been kind of -- you know, first of all, the fact that Republicans who back this effort and Democrats who back this effort and point to Jared Kushner as a White House ally, and their offer it does help build momentum for that. But this has been moving on its tracks for the most part. And there are also major complications as with any major piece of legislation with the Senate and the House they're on kind of this on a collision course and what their vision of criminal justice reform looks like and whether Jared Kushner can help resolve this differences will be a question further down the road.

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: It does in like he and Ivanka benefited from a lot of hype, frankly, even from people who don't agree with the president. They've invested a lot of their hopes and dreams in that couple because they come from New York social and even Democratic circles, that said, when pushes come to (INAUDIBLE) they both receive it to the background because the people that are actually running the White House do not align with their viewpoint, and they seem to have augmented their views to that of the White House rather than the other way around.

KING: In the headlines as you jump in, Olivier part with the Vanity Fair, Jared Kushner's new West Wing life involves keeping his head down. He's in Israel today or at saying this, on the opinion piece is Jared and Ivanka return to Israel, the once golden couple has lost its shine.

OLIVIER KNOX, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, SIRIUSXM: Look all the items that you listed at the top, though, and think of any one of them and a president or an administration solving any one of them would be amazing opioid crisis, right? That would be an amazing breakthrough, yes criminal justice system, also difficult.

We're going to see a test obviously coming up with the Middle East peace plan that keeps being promised and keeps being held back. For, you know, plan reasons this is another intractable thing that's been dropped on Jared Kushner's lap, but he has gotten pretty tight with the Saudi crown prince as you universally known by his name initial MBS. So, it's going to be interesting to watch. Again, I keep saying watch the Saudis, but what the Saudi response to this peace plan if we ever get it.

KING: If we ever get it. And let's just remember we go back to the beginning of the administration when we use turn secretary of everything, we don't use it to be overly snarky, we use it because the president puts so much faith in his son-in-law. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have in the audience a special person whose worked very hard, who married very well. It's my daughter Ivanka. I sort to stole her husband. He is so great.

If you can't produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can. OK? All my life, I've been hearing that's the toughest deal in the world to make. And I've seen it. But I have a feeling that Jared is going to do a great job.


KING: And from the beginning, whether it's on the specifics or just the fact that the president's daughter and his son-in-law are there, no government experience, important roles in the West Wing, both on the substance and just the presence, this has been a controversy.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No, question. I mean, and talk about a high bar that was almost impossible to reach. But we can't forget him in his conversation, security clearance. He does not have his full security clearance because of his financial background and other things.

He is the subject of the investigation, in some respects he was at that meeting in Trump Tower of June of 2016. So the reality is his wings were clipped by this chief of staff. Without a full security clearance, it's hard to be secretary of anything, let alone everything.

KUCINICH: How many times did he have to correct his financial disorders?

ZELENY: Multiple

KUCINICH: Multiple, multiple, multiple times.

KING: Too late, so to speak this in, Rudy Giuliani speaking last week. He's dug more holes than he's filled in since taken the job as President Trump lawyers. Here's Rudy.


RUDY GIULIANI, TRUMP ATTORNEY: Jared is a fine man, you know that. But men are, you know, disposable. But a fine women like Ivanka, come on.


KING: The 1950s are calling, they want their mayor back.

Up next for us, yes, economist Pence nag he reprizes at all that being an old to make a point to President Trump.


[00:12:39:14] KING: Topping our political radar today, let the gambling on games begin, says the Supreme Court with a 6-3 vote, it just struck down a law that kept nearly all states from allowing sports betting, meaning New Jersey and others can now cash in on a lucrative revenue stream. The major sports leagues didn't want this, fearing their integrity could be damage. No word yet from Peter Rose.

New female lawmakers getting fed up with the Senate's failure to reform the system for handling sexual harassment allegations on Capitol Hill. New York Senator Kristen Gillenbrand pointing out on Twitter, it's been 93 days since the House passed the bill addressing the issue, still no action in the Senate. Fellow Democratic Senator Patty Murray retweeting that post and adding, "We're tired of waiting."

And the big bet today by a retail lobbying group hoping to convince the president the sweeping trade tariffs a bad idea. The wager? But the president likes John Hughes' movies end and he saw this ad while getting his daily dose for "Fox & Friends".


[15:40:11] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tariffs raise acts on high working Americans. It's not complicated. Tariffs are B-A-D economics, bad economics. Bad.


KING: Always good to see Ben Stein. The (INAUDIBLE) newspaper reports the ad will also run in the Tulsa, Oklahoma market during an episode of "Rosanne." We'll make it back that the president protected --


KING: Let me come back to the more serious issue first, which is why are at almost 100 days the House passed bill. Remember when MeToo move was on the front pages. Congress said, you know what, on this one we're finally going to come. They're out of the 15th century, or the 16th century of the 21st century system to handle these things. Why? What's the excuse?

KIM: There's some -- that's a great question for people to answer definitively but there's been some concern in the Senate about provisions in the House bill that would've basically made the lawmakers financially responsible for any -- paying out any claims. Right now you can use taxpayer funds to do that.

The legislation will make them personally liable. But I think the problem and we try -- the Congress tried to put that sexual harassment legislation into this big catch all omnibus sweeping budget measure back in March. It did not get included and infuriating these female senators that we just saw earlier. And there aren't a lot of must- pass train leaving the station at this point here on the Capitol Hill in the midterm year so it just makes it much more difficult --

KING: How about making this one a must-pass on its loan so it can't be hidden, so we can look at. And if there are legitimate questions about that, I get it. It's a complicated issue. There's a -- don't they have enough staff and lawyers to figure this out?

KUCINICH: Well, you know, I had a very similar conversation with the GOP leadership aide around that time when there was at first a lot of rage about this not being included and there was a plan to get this done. But it doesn't answer you question on why this -- why haven't -- hasn't this gone through a community process? Why hasn't there been any momentum on this? And I think that's something they need to answer.

KING: And this base Supreme Court decision, I'm going to get Cleveland (INAUDIBLE) you want to bte him? OK. Can we bet somewhere, myself is for Cavaliers?

KUCINICH: I'm never going to bet against LeBron James, ever.

KING: Ever.

ZELENY: I mean this is a big in terms of the --

KING: 6 to 3 --

ZELENY: -- decision -- 6 to 3 and, you know, an unusual alignment of justices, which we don't also always see. But Sheldon Allison, we're talking about him before. This is certainly is going to be a blow for the Nevada gaming industry. It's going to be interesting to see how many states follow through with this.

KING: And a lot of states looking any time they can to let (INAUDIBLE) revenue. See how that one plays.

And up next we're going to see White House leakers talk about leaking. Yes, White House leakers talk about leaking. While the president and his staff remained mum about Senator John McCain.


KING: Welcome back. Four days now and counting. Sources tell CNN that Kelly Sadler, the White House Aide who made a tasteless remark about Senator John McCain's battle with cancer, promised the senator's daughter she would make a public apology.

Sadler and Meghan McCain's spoke on Thursday. As of this moment, we're left the noon hour here on Monday, consider that promise broken. There's been no apology which makes no sense to a long time McCain hand who specializes in crisis management.


MARK MCKINNON, FMR MCCAIN CAMPAIGN ADVISER: It's pretty easy to knock it down. He just stand up, address it, lay it down. They've just managed to make that a one-day story, a five-day story. We're talking about this Monday, this happened last Thursday. And all you going to do is stand up and say sorry.


KING: All you got to do is stand up and say sorry.

ZELENY: And the --

KING: Why not?

ZELENY: And the White House had that opportunity on Friday. I suspect they'll have that opportunity again this afternoon when the briefing happens. It's an intentional answer.

It's not like they have answered the question, they haven't answered the question. The question is to not give an apology, largely because the president does not have a big history of apologizing. So its one of two things either, A, he said do not apologize, or B, aides did not want to sort tot get his wrath for apologizing. But Mark McKinnon's right, it stretches this out. I think the point everyone in this town being tired of talking about it but it's still important.

KING: And those of you who don't know Mark McKinnon, he's suppose to John McCain, he worked for George W. Bush, he does crisis manager for major corporations. He gets the idea that people make mistakes. Let's try to clean them up.

You wrote over the weekend that with people (INAUDIBLE) over the weekend that instead Sarah Sanders has focused on berating her own staff for allowing this to leak out. I heard a snippet from an Axios reporting on the leaking from the White House. "You have to realize that working here is kind of like being in an ever ending Mexican standoff. Everyone has guns, meaning leaks, pointed at each other and its only matter of time before someone shoots. There's rarely a peaceful conclusion so you might as well shoot first."

Who the hell would want to work in an organization where people are sitting around their staff meeting deciding, well, if you're going to kept me, I'm going to get you first.

KUCINICH: But that has been how this White House has functioned since the very beginning. There are this competing tribes of people who --

KING: 15, 16 months in.


KING: It continues.

KUCINICH: It continues. It continues when we saw it. We saw it last week. That's still doesn't excuse the non-apology here. I mean this is an easy one. But let's be honest, crisis comes never been relief (ph) the strongest suit.

KING: And blaming leaks to that point. Meghan McCain who goes to Arizona on weekends a lot. She can inspect her job including being a host on "The View," speaking again today about the idea that, look, if you're in politics, if you're in media, stop whining about leaks.


MEGHAN MCCAIN, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": If you're a public figure and if you're working in the White House, you should expect everything you're saying in any context to be leaked. If someone said something that egregious and intense on this show backstage, I'd expect it to be on "The Daily Mail" in eight seconds.


KING: I'm not sure that's a good thing, but it is like today in the age of social media and everything else that people say things they shouldn't say and guess what? They tend to get out.

KIM: And its remarkable that as the story continues, you have more and more elected officials, Republican lawmakers speaking out in defensive McCain.

[12:50:07] You had Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska who is not prone to jumping into the fray that's going on at all times. He tweeted very strongly that the White House official who said this has to apologize.

ZELENY: We called it a leak. The reality is someone in the meeting, or several people in the meeting thought it was, you know, a sense of decency to get this out there. So I'm not sure that this is a leak. We throw out the word "leak." You know, it was someone troubled by that remark. It's not really a leak.

KING: In the Weekly Standard, Charlie Sykes, not a Trump fan, a columnist, but he writes this, "We all live in Trump's crab bucket right now. If you can't win respect, then try to destroy the basis by which respect is granted by flattening the moral landscape. Because Trump is incapable of appreciating or emulating the senator's sense of duty and honor, Trump resorts to the petulance of the bitter and envious."

You're reading statements like that and you realized that that is what people think about the president of the United States.

KNOX: I should say I'm going to recuse myself from the substance for personal reasons but on this sort of style points, you know, they've done this play before. The -- it's the outrage is not what was said. The outrage is not what was done. The outrage is the leak. And I can tell you, I mean, I like (INAUDIBLE) -- the flip side of that is basically all they've done, right? They are in constant crisis.


KNOX: But, you know, when chance -- former press secretary, you know, called a meeting to complaining about leaks, people in that room were texting were reporters what he was saying. I mean they just don't take that stuff that seriously.

KING: Organizational discipline part of the issue.

ZELENY: And loyalty.

KING: And loyalty. All right, to that point, there might be crisis communications all the time, but not just Trump's improving polls. There are more signs Democratic confidence in the blue wave might be wavering a little bit.


[12:55:56] KING: Welcome back. Democrats today dealing with what you might call a case of the spring jitters. President Trump poll numbers heading up a bit. Republicans feel better about some key Senate races. And a district-by-district look at the House battlefield has some in the party doubting that the blue wave will be as powerful as Democrats and for months hoped. This today, from one of our guests right now in the "Washington Post", "Democrats are picking strong candidates in dozens of Republican-held Republican -- sorry, Republican-held suburban districts where Trump has lost significant support. But recent surveys suggest the races may be tightening." West Virginia, Florida. Two key examples.

You are the author of said word, I'm sorry, I stumbled over a couple of them. It happens. Elections run in cycles, but Democrats, if you go back to January, February, March and even early April, we're pretty Tarzan-like about this size of this blue wave. Now they're starting to think again.

KIM: Exactly that confidence saw especially around March with Connor Lamb's victory Pennsylvania, is something that diminished a little bit but it is still May. The elections are November. There's plenty of time for the polling and for the momentum of these races ebb and flow throughout.

But especially in the Senate, they're destined to be an uptick in confidence for many reasons. First of all, the president and Senate Republicans do seem to be working a little bit more hand in glove and going after Senate Democrats. And you saw that strategy in Elkhart, Indiana last week when the president campaigned there. You saw him, you know, motivating the base. You saw him unify or he's trying to unify the party after a tough primary, and the White House Political Director Bill Stepien told us, that's kind of template you'll see moving forward in a lot of these tough races.

KING: And in the case of Indiana, they nominated Mike Braun not Richard Mourdock. I'm going to back six years, Richard Mourdock You know, Republicans back in the last time when Democrats won a couple of seats, Republican they should win in a Republican years, six years ago, the Republicans nominated some electable candidates. So far Republicans are thinking, OK, we got a candidate we think is good in Indiana. We didn't get the candidate we thought would be miserable in West Virginia, so part of it is Republican voters are doing the party of Washington in favor at the moment.

ZELENY: That's right. Democrats for the banking and hoping for a disarray inside Republican primaries. And it didn't, you know, it seemed like that was going to happen when Steve Bannon was promising to primary all these incumbents. It's still incredibly early. I think the prediction of the wave were a little bit about -- sort of outsized the beginning of the year. The reality is there aren't many House seats. There aren't 63 House seats available to win. But I think some good reason to, you know, let's just let people know.

KING: Some Democrats are actually I won't say happy but some Democrats saying this we get people -- we thought this is just going to happen. We don't just seat there and we get ride away and do the work. But to get involved, do more fundraising, do more work on the ground. Just look at the generic ballot. Right now it is three points, 47 to 44, meaning Democrats in advantage in the generic ballot.

If you go back a couple months, let's figure that, so let's come down a little bit. As far as Republican coming over which makes this story interesting. Just posted in the "New York Times," Alex Burns, Shantell Morgan (ph), Maggie Haberman, while Trump is talking about the vice president asserting himself more and more in Republican politics, Republican officials now see Mr. Pence seeking to exercise expanse of control, tending to his own allies and interests even when the president's instincts lean in another direction. Danger, Will Robinson.

ZELENY: It is the president reads the paper.

KUCINICH: Well, he outsourced a lot of the campaigning and fundraising to Mike Pence because Mike Pence likes to do that kind of stuff. And so Pence has taken this extra step. We'll see how the president reacts.

ZELENY: And this is all being run by Nick Ayers, the vice president chief of staff, a savvy political operator here. But it's a peril for a Pence world to get ahead of his skis, I think.


KING: But active midterm election year. Vice president not in the road yet. He has this thing in politics, a new thing called ambition. See how that plays out.

All right, we keep on that. Thanks for joining us "INSIDE POLITICS." See you back here at this time tomorrow. Wolf starts right now. Have a great day.