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INSIDE POLITICS

Santa Fe Gunman Exchanged Fire With Deputies For 25 minutes; U.S. Leads The World In School Shootings; Gina Haspel Sworn In as First Female CIA Director; U.S., China Agree To Suspend New Tariffs While Talks Continue; GOP Leaders Search For A Path Amid Immigration Civil War. Aired 12:30-1pm ET

Aired May 21, 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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[12:30:16] DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: New reports about what happened inside Santa Fe high school rather. Detailed gunfire tearing through the schools art building for a half an hour. During that time, authorities say Texas deputies were in a 25-minute shutout with the gunman before he was taken into custody. Schools are close today as investigators continue to piece together a timeline. But a moment of silence, remembering the 10 people killed was observed outside of the school this morning.

CNN Correspondent Nick Valencia is live for us in Santa Fe, Texas. And Nick, what are investigators saying this morning about the timeline and the shoot out?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Dana, we've known that this shooting happened around 7:30 in the morning. But investigators now telling us it took them four minutes to respond to the first 911 call. It was for the next 25 minutes that they were engaged in that gun fight that you talk about. What's unclear about that gun fight is if anybody that was killed or injured on Friday was caught in the crossfire. But if investigators are any closer to figuring out motive, they aren't making it public.

But one family member of a victim I spoke to, the mother of Shana Fisher, she has her own theory. She said she knows why her daughter was targeted. For at least four months, she says, the alleged gunman harassed her daughter trying to be her boyfriend. And finally last week, Shana Fisher has enough, standing up in the middle of class and evidently embarrassing the gunman in front of his classmate classmates.

And just a quick point as well on the weapons used in this shooting on Friday, Dana. A 30-caliber revolver and showed off shotgun, it was on Friday that the Texas governor said that he alleged gunman got those weapons from his father. But the law enforcement source telling us CNN's Evan Perez that those weapons are still being processed. So that at this point is also unclear. Dana?

BASH: Nick, thank you so much for that report.

Back here in Washington, Jackie Kucinich joins us again. So let's just look at what we have heard from officials sort of across the board, but on the Republican side about the reaction to this. And then we're going to finish up by hearing a response from President Obama's education secretary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN PATRICK, LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR FOR TEXAS: It's not any one issue. But again, we have to look at our culture of violence, just our violence society.

OLIVER NORTH, INCOMING NRA PRESIDENT: What we need to do is turn on the TV, go to a movie. If you look at what's happened to the young people, many of these young boys have been on Ritalin since they were in kindergarten.

AME DUNCAN, FORMER EDUCATION SECRETARY, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: They want to talk about video games, they want to talk about culture, they want to talk about anything except easy access to guns. Why is the United States such an outlier? It's because guns are so readily available.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: And let's put some facts behind what we just heard there about the U.S. compared to other countries around the world. I mean, look at this. School shootings since 2009, 288 in the United States. Mexico, which is not exactly the most peaceful of societies, eight. South Africa, six, India, five, Canada, two, Russia, Germany, Greece, China, one. I'm pretty sure that they have violent video games in those countries and they have people with mental health problems. But they don't have guns.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. And there's no question, the outrage that the White House or the, you know, President himself was first having, you know, a couple months ago after the Parkland shooting, he said he is going to be the president to change --

BASH: Yes. I do talk about that. I think we have video to remind --

ZELENY: He invited the students and the families and people from Parkland and Newtown, into the White House into the east room, to talk about this, I will be the president to change it. And then initially silence. He initially supported changing several things the NRA was against. All that has thrown away.

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: He supported complication for a moment which is always a kind of a boogeyman argument you hear from the right, talking about the government taking your guns. Initially the President said from people who are mentally ill, he wants to take it first. If that had come out of a Democrat politician's mouth, it would have been --

BASH: Exactly. I mean, right. He sat with parents, grieving parents, from Parkland in the White House on more than one occasion saying he would try to do something. Then apparently he had a meeting with the NRA, and as you said, silence.

Is it as simple as that, Manu? I mean, you talk to Republicans all day every day about issues like that. Is it as simple as the power of the NRA? Or is it just that it's, I mean, in fairness to all of these lawmakers, there are complicated issues before us.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Exactly. I mean, exactly. It couldn't be more fundamentally divided over this issue, I mean, to go after Sand Hook, the efforts get universal background checks done at a time where Democratic president had democratic control of the Senate. They come to you and get it through the Senate because of our position from Republicans and a handful of Democrats.

[12:35:09] Getting immediate moderates, anything moderates through very difficult, and you look at the way the White House is dealing with this after Parkland said they're want to deal with some of these top issues so they, what do they do, they created a commission to essentially study the issue to death. And on Friday, Sarah Sanders said they are going to restart that same commission that they initially started back after Parkland. So it's clear that the very difficult issues, this town is not going to do --

BASH: And Florida is a purple, meaning towards blue state so there are very different views, very views. Texas is a very gun-friendly state, very, and that makes a difference in terms of the reaction.

MICHAEL BENDER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Yes. And Florida, to be clear, they were definitely on the forefront of some of these pro-NRA laws that we've seen pushed through over the last decade or so. But down in South Florida, you're right, I mean, that's the liberal heart of Florida, sort of common sense says that kids there that have journal (ph) a lot of their response to Parkland or, you know, follow their parents' politics or maybe more liberal.

But I think also a part of that is that there was a lot of things -- there were handful things already in the hopper. They'd already been talking about bump stocks and they were able to move that off the board. And then, you know, but there's a fact remain, this President promised to make this a priority of this administration and, you know, a few months later I don't think that is quite the case.

BASH: All right, before we go to break, let's turn to a feel-good moment I think everybody can use. This is from over the weekend. It is crowds in Kennebunkport, Maine welcoming back their city's most famous seasonal resident, former President George H.W. Bush just a month after he lost his wife Barbara and he himself was hospitalized.

Son Jeb Bush tweeted this photo of his father waving to the crowds. Those who came out to greet the former president say they're grieving along with him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was moved to tears thinking about the fact that Mrs. Bush would not be accompanying them. And then when we came to find out that he was coming back today, we feel incredibly lucky to be here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has given so much of his life to serving the country, and this is the least we could do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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[12:41:49] BASH: Our political radar today is tracking two outspoken politicians, one who is already in the Senate and one who is trying to get there. Seventy-six-year-old independent Bernie Sanders said today he is going to run for a third term to represent Vermont in the Senate. Meanwhile in West Virginia, Don Blankenship wants to launch a third party bid after finishing third in the Republican primary there. He's going to have to overcome the state's sore loser law which keeps failed primary candidates from running in the general election.

And a glass ceiling breaking moment at CIA headquarters. Gina Haspel sworn in as the agency's first ever female director just a short time ago. The President was among those on hand as Haspel took the oath and gave a short speech to employees at the spy agency. She now leads.

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GINA HASPEL, CIA DIRECTOR: I would not be standing before you today if not for the remarkable courage and dedication displayed by generations OSS and agency women in roles both large and small who challenge stereotypes, broke down barriers and opened doors for the rest of us. I stand on the shoulders of heroines who never saw public acclaim but served as inspirations to the generations that came after them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Meanwhile, the White House Press Secretary made note of Haspel's achievement on Twitter saying, it proves Democrats are, quote, losing their war against women in the Trump administration." Jackie written about this whole notion that Sarah Sanders was talking about. What do you make of that?

KUCINICH: You know, the White House and Republicans have been trying to turn the identity politics argument against Democrats. I don't know that it's working when we were talking to senators about the fact that Gina Haspel, when she was going through the confirmation process, none of a lot of senators were looking at that, including Susan Collins, saying that's not part of my consideration whether I'm going to vote for or against her.

And the RNC (INAUDIBLE) that they were trolling Democrats on this. So I would not -- but, you know, still, I think this is something that Republicans are still going to try to use against Democrats in the midterms, in terms of whether they're going to reject the Democrat -- a Republican woman versus a male Democrat. This isn't going away, but how effective it is? I don't know. RAJU: And yet hearing Senate Republicans yielding this argument, I mean, when they were defending her qualifications, it weren't going where the White House is going and really the opposition was about her role in water boarding torture and the destruction of video games.

BASH: It was quite gender neutral which is actually in some ways. Welcome.

OK, everybody stand by. Next, the U.S. and China appear to have averted a trade war, at least for now. But did Beijing meet any of the President's demands? Stay with us

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[12:48:51] BASH: President Trump had China on his mind this morning, claiming victory in the trade standoff with Beijing. The reality issue might expect is a little bit more complicated.

Here's the President in a series of tweets throughout the morning. He said, "China has agreed to buy massive amounts of additional farm/agriculture products. On China, barriers in tariffs to come down for the first time under our potential deal with China, they will purchase from our great American farmers practically as much as our farmers can produce."

Talks with China last week, a bit joint statement from the two countries but no firm deal. Appoint emphasize this morning by the President's Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILBUR ROSS, COMMERCE SECRETARY: It's not a definitive agreement, it's a framework. For the moment it's kind of at the 40,000-foot level. This is not a definitive agreement, this is what we hope will be a path forward. We have agreed on a framework, now the effort is to translate that framework into an executable reality.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: The only firm commitment so far is from the U.S. which agreed to suspend its planned tariffs on Chinese goods while negotiations continue.

[12:50:05] And as we talk about this, I just want to show the Dow right now, and you can see it in the corner there. It is up about 300 points so far today, and there's no question is because they like what they heard from the President and what they heard from Wilbur Ross. At least in the short term, there is no trade war.

BENDER: Yes, you heard that even from the administration, not from the President necessarily, but the members of the administration. It's a good thing that there's no trade war. But your point is a good one. This seems to be a real work in progress here.

We have seen a couple of concessions and trying to be back away from their anti-dumping probes that were hurting farmers. They've agreed to buy more goods and services, but Mnuchin this morning at the White House was very specific that there are no specifics yet on that deal. And that there's a good reason they didn't include any numbers and how much this is going to the deficit because they really don't have that number yet.

RAJU: That was the big thing going into these stocks. They said they were going to get about $12 billion to cut the trade deficit, and then the administration had to walk that back on Friday after China said that it was not part of the deal. A lot of these investment the agricultural and energy products, China was probably going to do any way. So it's really unclear what the White House got from these threats that it made about the tariffs.

ZELENY: What they're trying to doing is to make nice with President Xi before the Singapore Summit. President Xi is not going to be at the Senate with Kim Jong-un with that is central to all of these. The President is meeting tomorrow here with the South Korean President. The White House wanted to sort of have a happy headline on this. But beyond the happy headline, I think that this has not match up to the rhetoric of the Trump campaign (ph).

BASH: Well, his fellow Republican on Capitol Hill, his former opponent for the Republican Nomination, Marco Rubio, agrees with you. He said, "China is winning the negotiations. Their concessions are things they plan to do, anyways." Excuse me, "In exchange, they get no tariffs, can keep stealing intellectual property and keep blocking our companies while they invest in the U.S. without limits, hashtag losing." Ouch.

BENDER: It's not the first time, sorry, that if their calculation was right, this is a calculation about their help with North Korea, if already one praise (ph) from Trump on this. Last year when Trump agreed that they weren't manipulating currency anymore, the reason he said that was because they've been so helpful on North Korea. And since they're helping with North Korea, why would I go after --

BASH: That's true. Real quick, Jackie, that all is true but the reality is one of the most potent campaign arguments that Donald Trump made was about China. He's been very tough on China.

KUCINICH: And he usually -- History has shown he usually goes back to his campaign promises.

BASH: Yes, he does.

KUCINICH: So we'll have to see if that's true in this case and, you know, I think a lot of that hinges to your point on North Korea.

BASH: All right, everybody standby. Up next, Paul Ryan is trying to avert a mutiny in the House among his colleagues. Not the first time we've seen it, not the first speaker to deal with it. We'll explain after a break.

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[12:57:14] BASH: Welcome back. A civil war over immigration is raging in the House and highlighting long-standing tensions in the Republican Party. A petition to force a vote on a series of immigration bills has gathered steam and is now just 21 votes away, maybe even fewer, from sparking a new battle in this war.

Back with our panel, Manu, what I have heard, and tell me is this goes from what you are hearing is that part of this dynamic -- this is all sort of sparked by moderate Republicans, many of whom, most of whom are in tough races back home where they want to prove that they're moving on an issue where their constituents really care, which is DACA. But they kind of felt like they were OK to push this and to challenge their leadership because their leader, the Speaker, Paul Ryan, is a lame duck.

RAJU: That's right. And you're actually seeing an interesting division of sorts between Ryan and McCarthy privately who is privately. Ryan seemed more amenable to dealing with the immigration issue, McCarthy taking a harder line from behind closed doors. And you're also seeing just a broader tension play out within the Republican conference.

Last week, tied to this immigration fight was this farm bill that was on the floor of the House. There was a strategic dispute from the House conservatives who wanted to bring a much more hard line immigration bill to the floor first and not deal with the farm bill. As a result, the farm bill imploded. So you're seeing a lot of tension.

BASH: And this is a Republican majority clinging to the notion that they at least want to keep it and not lose to the Democrats. On that, Rich Lowry with the National Review, conservative publication said something that was very telling, looking back at history. "The discharge petition if it were to succeed, would remind me a little of the rule on the crime bill going down in the Democratic House in the summer of 1994. A majority on its last legs losing control of the floor." The wheels begin to come off in the House.

ZELENY: I mean, we'll see if that ends up happening but the President has been so focused on immigration. He is trying to keep the base alive here. But this is very a tenuous. I'm going to sort of watching to see what the White House is going to do specifically on this. They're trying to avert a crisis here, but that's where it certainly could be.

BENDER: There's a sense in the White House that there -- from the foreign bill unto this district teaching (ph) that they'll be an overreaction from members wanting to sort of send the Freedom Caucus a message and help get this immigration bill onto the floor.

KUCINICH: You know, but on the flip side, you have the Republicans that are really pushing this are looking at their district, someone like a Jeff Denham, who wrote an op-ed in the L.A. Times this weekend talking about how 29 percent of the DACA recipients are in California. These California Republicans, so many of them have really tough races going into 2018.

BASH: Which is why we probably see show votes. Those people being able to vote for what they want, conservatives vote what they want and no policy being made. We've seen it before.

Thank you so much for joining on INSIDE POLITICS. John is back here tomorrow. And Wolf starts right now.