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Trump: I Want "Total Transparency" From FBI and Rosenstein; Congress Weakens Post-Financial Crisis Banking Rules; New NFL Players on Field Must Stand During Anthem; Progressive Women Score Big Wins in Southern Primaries. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired May 23, 2018 - 12:30   ET



[12:30:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But what about Rod Rosenstein? What about the Japanese (INAUDIBLE), sir?



TRUMP: Well, we're going to see what happens on Singapore. We're going to see. And, it could happen, it could very well happen, but, whatever it is, we will know next week about Singapore.

And if we go, I think it'll be a great thing for North Korea.


TRUMP: I can't hear you, John (ph).


TRUMP: Someday, a date will happen. It could very well be June 12th. Someday, a date will absolutely happen. It could very well be June 12th. We will see. We'll know next week.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, why wouldn't say whether you have confidence (INAUDIBLE)?

TRUMP: Well, they're going all be in the room tomorrow, we're going to see what happens. What I want, is I want total transparency.

Wait, you have to have transparency. Even they probably want transparency because this issue supersedes a party. This supersedes Republicans and Democrats. So what I want from Rod, from the FBI, from everybody, we want transparency.

And you know what, I think in their own way, they are obstructionists, but even the Democrats, I really believe on this issue, it supersedes, I think they want transparency too.

(INAUDIBLE) TRUMP: Thank you, thank you.


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: You hear the president taking questions there for a little more than five minutes, making his way to Marine One as you watch his state playback horse. The president now left the White House. There, you see the bars improvement state playback.

All right, our White House Correspondent Jeff Zeleny is at the White House. Jeff, you were asking questions about Rod Rosenstein. Very interesting to the president there.

I hope it's not true, but it might be true, kind of a little scatter shot, to be kind about these allegations that there is a spy planted in the Trump campaign. He says we're all using the term "spygate". Let me just say as (INAUDIBLE) to you. Take us inside that conversation but no, we're not.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN WHITE SENIOR HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We are not all using it but when the president says a lot of people are saying, he's true in some respects, but that is people who run one channel, one spectrum if you will. And those are many of his advisers, including some who work for Fox News quite frankly. Sean Hannity is essentially an adviser to this president, others are as well.

So, some spectrums are calling it spygate, but of course that was coined by the president. John, this is -- as I was standing out there, just on the south lawn just a few moments ago here, it was almost a bit of deja vu because we have seen the president do this repeatedly. He sort of operates off of a potential rumor or some factoid and turns it into a day's long conspiracy theory. And that's what he has done multiple times.

But I was struck by one question there when he was asked who is to blame for this? Who is behind this? If in fact there were spies in his campaign, which we are told by multiple U.S. officials there were not. He says, I hope not, when I asked if President Obama was directly involved in it.

So this is classic Donald Trump throwing a lot of things out there, trying to validate, you know, what is already in the (INAUDIBLE) there.

But I think, the news value of this, John, is that he is doubling down on the fact that he's calling this a spygate. He's also owning the James Comey decision. He called it a great service to the country by firing James Comey just about a year and a couple weeks ago. Of course, many supporters of his strongly disagree that triggered the special counsel of course.

But, the president also saying he's not trying to discredit the special counsel's probe, he's trying to explain it to the country, John. But it's clear he's using a variety of rumors, conspiracy theories and his own facts to fit his version of events. Also one final thing on the Singapore summit, he said he believes that we will know the answer to that question next week, if there is a summit, as we heard on June 12th. John?

KING: Jeff Zeleny for us. Another interesting day at the White House. I'm not sure there's been a not interesting day since the beginning of this administration. I appreciate your reporting.

Let's bring you back to (INAUDIBLE). It's interesting, this is a president who, he did this as a businessman, he did this as a candidate, now he does this as president of the United states, which we shouldn't be surprised because he's consistent. But sometimes we're shocked because of the -- there you see the president, Marine One has landed at Joint Base Andrews. He's going to get on Air Force One, again head up for Long Island. At least the second time he's been there for a round table on MS-13 violence. We'll track the president as he goes.

He is consistent in the use of innuendo, or people are saying, or I hope it's not true, but then taking two minutes to say things that are simply not proven. He said James Clapper said there was a spy in the campaign. James Clapper did not say that. But he also did say, I want full transparency.

And so (INAUDIBLE) whether you're Democrat, Republican, Trump supporter or not. That would be actually good to hold the president in that test, right? If he wants full transparency as we look at the documents about FBI practices during the investigation, even before the special counsel came on board.

[12:35:07] Right now, it's a small group of House Republicans invited to this meeting. Am I right about that? With Chief of Staff John Kelly and two House Republicans.

Three Republican senators, they like to think of themselves as grown ups on that side of the Capitol want to go. Chuck Grassley, the Chairman of Judiciary Committee, have every right reason to be there, right, it's his committee. John Cornyn, the number two in the leadership, also a former state attorney general, gets these issues. Lindsey Graham, a military lawyer in the reserves.

Why not? And why not let Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, two Democrats in the room. If you want full transparency, bring everybody in the room. And if there is actual evidence of misconduct, then you can have a bipartisan consensus to do something about it.

And if there's not, everybody can close their, you know what, and stop talking about reckless conspiracy theories.

MOLLY BALL, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, TIME: I mean, one aspect to this though is that, this is still an ongoing investigation. It is -- you know, I think that there ought to be a transparency for everything that law enforcement does. But as reporters, we don't usually get to know what the police are doing while they're doing it, while they're doing an investigation.

KING: Thank you for that. It's a pretty important point.

BALL: They're trying to exercise oversight of an investigation that has not yet concluded. Traditionally, you -- the investigation concludes, and then there can be oversight of it. So this is why -- this is what has led some to suspect that instead they are trying to get visibility into the investigation on behalf of the president's legal defense team.

KING: Thank you for making that point because it is not -- we don't slow down often enough to just say, wait a minute, let's -- wherever you live, let's say the police department is in the middle of an investigation into organized crime, a bank that's cheating, a bank that was robbed, they don't tell you who their informants are, where they're getting their information from, until they charge somebody and then they got -- or they drop it, they don't have the evidence and they go to court.

And again, there's a process to do this. And then there's the way the president does this.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER,: Yes, and I think, in this limited example when, are going to have Trey Gowdy and Devin Nunes in this meeting tomorrow at the White House. If they're in there, and the president wants transparency, then I think you're exactly right, why can't Chuck and Nancy, his old pals from the fall when they did all sorts of the deals together. Or why can't they be in there, and you imagine that that sort of the next step, that they'll essentially call the president out on this and say, well, you want a transparency, shouldn't we be there too.

I mean, the problem obviously for this president is what comes out of that meeting if Chuck and Nancy are actually there. It's unlikely that they're going to double down on this conspiracy theory that he has and that he's now calling spygate.

KING: Right, and to that point, Devin Nunes because of his own actions had to be recused as chairman of his own committee. He has zero credibility.


KING: I'm sorry, zero credibility outside of the tiny audience of state TV. You know, he has zero credibility so why would you do that? Trey Gowdy is a different story. You said, he's retiring from Congress, he's been much more straightforward, more the straight shooter, former prosecutor. He's different, but still I would assume Trey Gowdy wants a little backup in this meeting.

OLIVIER KNOX, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, SIRIUSXM: But we're back in the court of public opinion, where the president is casting himself as the champion of transparency information. And he's forcing law enforcement officials to defend the norm that Molly laid out very straightforwardly and simply that people don't necessarily understand that you don't short circuit an ongoing investigation. You don't disclose the identity of the informant mid investigation, sometimes maybe ever. So he's casting himself as the champion of your right to know versus, you know, these shadowy deep state characters who were trying to keep it all from you. It's not the first time, remember release the memo?

KING: I do indeed.

KNOX: This is a recurring theme with these.

KING: And these are recurring theme with this 1235/03:26 and again there's a way whether they let these things run their course, and then if they go away, you don't like, you think something is wrong, you challenge it. But that's not the way this administration works, so at least not yet.

Up next for us, a new NFL policy on a culture war issue, the president relishes talking about.


[12:42:53] KING: Topping our political radar on this busy news day, Senate negotiators finally have an agreement on how to change the broken system for handling sexual harassment claims on Capitol Hill. Compared to the House Bill that's already pass, the Senate's version gets more specific in terms of who's liable and who pays when a member of Congress or a staffer are accused.

Party leaders released a rare joint statement applauding the deal, saying they're optimistic the Senate will pass it quickly.

This year marks a decade since the financial crisis, but now Congress rolling back some of the rules adopted in its way. Our Chief Business Correspondent Christine Romans is here with more on rolling back Dodd- Frank.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. Weaker financial rules are on the way to the president's desk. The House yesterday voted in favor of a bipartisan Senate bill to roll back parts of Dodd-Frank. The center piece here is to ease rules on community banks. A Republican and moderate Democrats say that Dodd- Frank hurts those banks with stricter regulations that were steeple and lending there.

So the bill raises the threshold for federal oversight from a bank to sign a $50 billion all the way up to $250 billion. That leaves only the very biggest banks like JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, they're the ones that face the toughest scrutiny. They're the ones that need to have annual stress test. They have to provide plans on how to safely dismantle if they fail.

Anything below that though, doesn't have to have a rainy day fund so to speak in some of these stricter measures. Now the Senate Banking Chair Mike Crapo says this will help community banks sprue (ph) economic growth and create jobs on Main Street.

But progressives, John, warned any roll back could trigger another financial crisis and they point out there are lot of institutions all the way up to that $250 billion size that probably still need some pretty strict oversight. Now, the bill is not just about bank oversight, though. It also loosens regulations for mortgage lenders, it changes the rules for student loan default, it also makes credit freezes free for all Americans like all those peoples whose data was exposed in the Equifax breach last year.

The bill now heads to the president. He's expected to sign it before Memorial Day. Congress, John is cutting these regulations at the very moment banks are reporting their best quarter in history.

[12:45:01] Profits soared to a record $56 billion in the first quarter. Banks are not hurting. John?

KING: Christine, not hurting. That's a good way to put it.

Now, breaking news into us. The National Football League has just announced a brand new policy for dealing with players who protest during the national anthem. The policy says, quote, all players who are on the field during the performance must stand. But, they can stay in the locker room if they so choose.

The NFL says teams with players who sit or kneel can be subject to fines. The commissioner Roger Goodell speaking about this brand new rule just moments ago.


ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: We want people to be respectful to the national anthem. We want people to stand. That's all personnel. And make sure that they treat this a moment in a respectful fashion. That's something that we think we owe.

We've been very sensitive in making sure that we give players choices, but we do believe that that moment is an important moment.


KING: You have to say victory for President Trump, is it not? He, you know, threatened the league, essentially pushed, and that some of the T.V. ratings went down. Some people boycott. I don't know the extent of it.

But is this a victory for the president?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, look, one of the most illuminating things was when the New York Times got a hold of the closed door meeting between owners and the players and they just made it so clear how terrified they were of the president. And what it was doing to the league in the public perception.

I want to read -- Roger Goodell put out a statement, he said, "It's unfortunate that I feel protest created a false perception among many of the thousands NFL players, they were patriotic. This is not and was never the case which is precisely why we'll penalize and fine them if they do it --

KING: Right.

MATTINGLY: -- under the new rule. It's the classic like P.R. case of trying to have it both ways and probably ending upsetting both sides here. This was a terrible -- just bogged down issue for the NFL to begin with and I don't think it's going to change any time soon. And I'm not totally sure when you're saying that this didn't mean they're unpatriotic. This wasn't the reason they were doing this, and now you're fighting them.

All it does is lead into the perception -- the improper perception that this was about patriotism, this was about disrespecting the troops, this was about all of these things. I don't know.

KING: This is about players who are Americans exercising this thing we kind of cherish called our First Amendment right. (INAUDIBLE) what it was.


KING: This is from the players union. The NFL chose not to consult the union in the development of this new policy or the union review the new policy and challenge any aspect that seemed consistent with the collective bargaining agreement. Roger Goodell trying to have both sides of an issue, trying to get argument (INAUDIBLE).

Coming up, progressive women win big in the southern primaries. How that trend is shaping the Democratic outlook for the midterm elections? That's next.



[12:52:01] LUPE VALDEZ (D) TEXAS GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: Texas is changing. Texas is changing. Look around you. Look around you. This is what Texas looks like.

I am constantly hearing this is going to be such an uphill battle. Please, tell me when I didn't have an uphill battle.

AMY MCGRATH (D), KENTUCKY CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: What happened tonight is amazing. I couldn't be more honored and more humbled to be standing here tonight as your nominee.

STACEY ABRAMS (D) GEORGIA GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: This is our moment! Our chance to lift up Georgia. And if we fight, if we push, if we work, we will win!


KING: It's progressive women who dominated Democratic primaries in Texas, Kentucky, and Georgia, giving a glimpse of some of the emerging trends this primary season. For Democrats, it seems to be mostly if not all about female candidates and about moving the party more to the left. One of those candidates, you just saw her there, hopes to become the country's first black female governor. Stacey Abrams running in the red state of Georgia, says the strong Democratic turnout in the primary shows her, it's a new party with new enthusiasm.

You did some reporting there in Georgia. I mean, what a statement it would be if an African-American woman can win. She'd be the first African-American woman governor any way, but in Georgia, ruby red, Trump country.

BALL: Georgia is actually not a ruby red state anymore, right? Obama lost it by just five points. And I believe Trump also want to buy just five points. So it is a state that, like the rest of -- particularly the coastal south, is beginning to purple at the edges. But has it gone far enough?

What we don't know from the Democratic primary is whether someone like Stacey Abrams can win statewide when Republicans are voting. We know that Democrats voting in primaries are excited particularly about female candidates and about fresh faces and anti-establishment candidates.

You know, one of the things that I earned from reporting on this primary though, Stacey Abrams was perceived as the more left wing candidate largely because of her political strategy, and perhaps because she's black. But she wasn't actually politically idealogically. In fact, she may have been more centrist ideologically than the candidate that she defeated. And her general election pitch is going to be a lot about all of the ways that she worked with Republicans in the state legislature which she did very successfully as the Democratic minority leader.

HENDERSON: Yes. I mean, I think the key there is going to be what white voters do. I mean, we focus so much on black voters there. But if you look at past campaigns, all black voters have showed up, it's the white voters who haven't voted for Democrats.

Michelle Nunn got something like 14 percent of the white vote in 2014. She was sort of name brand moderate Democrat, didn't do well in that race. So we'll see, in Texas, it's essentially the same thing. I do think having these candidates, particularly in Texas, a Latino, a Latina at that top of the ballot, might mean something for down ballot races.

For the first time, you're going to have Democrats challenge Republicans in all of those districts. So that will be interesting to watch, if there's any effect there. But unlikely that either of these women are going to win.

[12:55:01] KING: In addition to seeing women (INAUDIBLE) any regrets win in Kentucky over an establishment candidate (INAUDIBLE). It's another example of not having a title helping you, are the same politician climate that help Donald Trump not being a politician is still out there in America.

MATTINGLY: Yes. No, I think that's absolutely true. We've seen it throughout the specials, throughout the primaries up to this point. You see in the party, the organization gets behind you, as (INAUDIBLE) did with her opponent in Kentucky, it doesn't necessarily always work. If you have ties to something else, I will say that, for all of the problems in California and other places (INAUDIBLE) last night at the Democratic campaign committee.

But on this one, this one we missed. I think interesting element would be is a progressive female candidate with a great bio. How do they do in a district that they probably shouldn't win on favor?

KING: That's to get (INAUDIBLE) about the past into June. Some interesting fascinating races shaping up for what will be an interesting midterm spring and fall ahead.

Tonight here on CNN, we'll get more flavor on what's to come this year. The House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi answers your questions during a live town hall, a special. That's 9:00 p.m. right here on CNN. You don't want to miss that.

Thanks for joining us in the INSIDE POLITICS today. We'll see you back here this time tomorrow. Wolf's in the chair after a quick break. Have a great day.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer. It's 7 a.m. in Hawaii's big island, 1 p.m. here in Washington, 2 a.m. Thursday in Pyongyang.