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House GOP Puts Immigration War On Ice For Now Sets New Deadline; Trump and Abe Meet Ahead Of G7, North Korea Summit; US Cuts A Deal With Chinese Smartphone Maker ZTE. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired June 7, 2018 - 12:30   ET



[12:30:54] JOHN KING, CNN HOST: To Capitol Hill now and today's mission impossible for House Republicans. Speaker Paul Ryan says today's close door talks in immigration, in his views, were very productive. And he says he's able to head up a so-called discharge position effort by some moderate Republican.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Our new deadline is not to have a deadline but to work with our members to get things done and avoid a discharge petition. So, obviously, time is of the essence. We're not talking about delaying anything. Time is of the essence. If we want to have a legislative process that we can control, which means a shot at law versus what I would call a futile gesture of a discharge petition.


KING: House Speaker Ryan has been trying to head off a revolt by moderates. They are demanding a vote. That's how they use a discharge petition, a vote on legislation to protect the so-called dreamers. Those moderates have said they would work with Democrats to use the rules and force a vote if necessary.

So the Speaker's emergency plan was to lock everyone in a room for more than two hours today and hope the Republicans emerge with a consensus. The out of that, of course, about the same as winning the powerball.

Let's bring in our Congressional Reporter Lauren Fox. Lauren, no consensus but we're hearing there was progress. Some of the moderates have agreed to put that discharge petition part of their revolt on hold. Tell us about that.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well absolutely, John. And we have to remember that a two-hour immigration meeting doesn't seem very promising when they are all in that room. But coming out, moderates feeling very upbeat.

Jeff Denham who's been leading this discharge petition effort in the House of Representative told my colleague, Tal Kopan, quote, "I think we've got a path forward." That's obviously very significant. They continue to want to work with the House Freedom Caucus and leadership to try to bridge that divide that has existed in this conference not just for a year, not just two years, but than a decade now or so now on this issue of immigration. They are trying to find some kind of resolution on DACA.

But we have to remember, they have been here before. Remember that on this issue of DACA, Republicans have gotten close. These negotiations have fallen apart time after time. There are regional and idealogical differences, and within that conference meeting, there were a lot of diverse views. That's what this meeting was about.

It was making sure that everyone felt hurt from Steve King to Carlos Curbelo. That was the key in this meeting. And obviously, it sounds like moderates coming out of there are feeling pretty optimistic.

KING: Pretty optimistic. Skeptical, Lauren, but thanks for the fresh reporting. We'll watch where optimism goes in the days ahead. We know where it's gone in the past. So you walk the halls all the time.

This is a victory for the Speaker in the sense that if they're going to pull back on the discharge position, he's not going to be embarrassed. The moderates are not going to go to the floor, get enough Democrats to sign on and force action on a piece of legislation that the moderates think they need to vote on this year. So the Speaker gets a tactical victory today, this is optimism? Are they going to vote on immigration legislation this year that will be passed the House, passed the Senate, be signed by the President?


KING: My powerball odds are better than that, right?

KAPUR: It's a temporary victory for the Speaker to hold this off now. The real question is will the moderates hold firm and push forward of the discharge petition. They have the votes they need. They teamed up with Democrats. They have 215 out of 218 votes. So it go around Paul Ryan and force to vote on this.

They won't vote on DREAM Act, you know, a DACA and the wall and something of Ryan's choice and the Goodlatte Bill, the hard liners want. They're open to voting on anything but Ryan wants to put in a vote on something that will divide his conference and not necessarily be signed into law. You know, moderates are getting to that.

KING: To that point, then, there will never be a vote with this group of Republicans. I'm sorry, but there will never be a vote on this group of Republicans. The moderates want a DACA bill that protects the dreamers and gives them a path to citizenship.

Then conservative don't want that. Something I want to talk about it all. But some would take a temporary path to status but then there's the border wall funding, which you limit legal immigration. There's a whole lot of other stuff in there. And you can't square this circle, can you? KAPUR: There's no path that reconciliation that I see between the three basic sections here. They are the moderates who want to path the citizenship for at least some people who are in the country illegally right now. They are the, you know, hard liners like Bob Kudla (ph) and his allies.

And I think Speaker Ryan is on the same boat that say give them temporary work permits, not path to citizenship and then have all of these restrictive measures to, you know, secure the border and to cut legal immigration. And then there's another faction which bigger than I think we recognize which is just no mercy whatsoever. This is Steve King. Anything that gives any leniency that allows these people to stay here is not OK. That is what the passion of the conservative base

[12:35:11] KING: And so you look at this in an election year again. In an election year in June, of an election year, is that the clock keeps ticking, we're closer. This is the new NBC Wall Street Journal. For immigrants ranks. Health care first, economy, jobs, guns, taxes, spending, immigration down in the middle to the low part of the pack right there in terms of issues that matter to American voters.

But that's nationally. That is not to motivate Republican voters. Republicans think this is a big issue for them.

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS; WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, this is a big issue for them and I think a huge issue for the President. And to the degree that they are wondering where the President is going to come down on this because he's given them good reason to wonder, that is a political risk that a lot of them do not want to take.

And the issue here, I think, with this temporary victory as it was described it for Paul Ryan is he knows that there are the votes in the House. If you put together all the Democrats and moderate Republicans who want to vote on this to get a DACA bill maybe with border security, maybe even with wall funding out of the House.

He clearly does not want that to happen because he doesn't want his members to have to go on the record on a measure like that if it's not going to become law and if it's not going to have a majority of Republicans behind it. But if that's the case, then he's going to have to come up with a consensus vehicle, and there just isn't one right now.

KING: And they had a spending bill they have to deal with. So if they push it off for today, they have to deal with it by the phone as they do. The President is going to look at these numbers, and we're just seconds away from hearing, and by the way, from the President, the Prime Minister of Japan.

The President is going to look at these numbers, that show border apprehensions are going up. The President wants his government to crack down on border crossings. You see the backup. So the President is mad about this, which is going to make the President dig even deeper on the give-me-my-wall money, and he's not so much concerned about the other stuff.

MOLLY BALL, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, TIME: Well, he is, though, because there was a point last year when the Democrats actually offered him wall money in exchange for some kind of DACA compromise, and he turned that down.

KING: Sorry Molly, I need to interrupt. The President and the Prime Minister, let's go to the White House.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think I'm very well prepared. I don't think I have to prepare very much. It's about attitude, it's about willingness to get things done, but I think I've been preparing for this summit for a long time, as has the other side. I think they've been preparing for a long time also. So this isn't a question of preparation. It's a question of whether or not people want it to happen, and we'll know that very quickly.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they put it off, what do you tell them?

TRUMP: Well, it's going to be much more of their photo op. I think it's a process. I've told you that many times before. I think it's not a one-meeting deal. It would be wonderful if it were. You know, they've been doing this for a long time. There's been a lot of enemies out there, a lot of dislike, a lot of hatred between countries.

This will not be just a photo op. This will be at a minimum we'll start with perhaps a good relationship, and that's something that's very important toward the ultimate making of a deal. I'd love to say it could happen in one deal, and maybe it can. They have to denuke. If they don't denuclearize, that will not be acceptable.

We cannot take sanctions off. The sanctions are extraordinarily powerful. We cannot -- and I could add a lot more, but I've chosen not to do that at this time. But that may happen.

By the way, with Iran, we're adding tremendously powerful sanctions. They understand that very well. I think Iran already is not the same country if you look -- I don't think they're looking so much to the Mediterranean like they were two months ago, so it's a big difference.

It was number one nuclear, but also out of it you also get the side benefit that Iran is a different place. And we'll see what happens and maybe ultimately something will happen with Iran. But for our meeting next week, I think it's going to be a very fruitful meeting, I think it's going to be an exciting meeting, I think we're going to get to know a lot of people that our country never got to know.

This is something that should have been handled many years ago by other presidents. It shouldn't be handled now, it should have been handled years ago, but it is being handled now and I'll take care of it. Thank you very much. Thank you.


TRUMP: Thank you very much.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any chance you'll play golf at the summit?

TRUMP: No, I'd love to.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, let's go guys.

TRUMP: Thank you very much. Thank you.





KING: That's the question and answer portion of the President of the United States with the Prime Minister of Japan. It's hard to hear the last couple of question. We'll get our people in the room to catch along what was said in the end as people were moving out. The microphones were pulled away from the President.

But in the part you did hear, the President saying he doesn't take it's a question of preparation when it comes to next week summit with Kim Jong-un about North Korea. He said he hasn't done a lot of preparation because it doesn't need a lot of preparation.

It's not a question of preparation. That's a quote from the President saying that he's been talking about the issues. It's mainly a matter of can he build a relationship and build trust. He also said that might alarm some people watching this summit.

[12:40:07] This will make the conservatives a bit more happy. The President said we cannot take the sanctions off until North Korea denuclearized. So one of the big takeaways from we just heard there, we're been talking about the trade meeting with the Prime Minister of Japan today and conversations in Canada tomorrow where trade is the biggest issue but the Singapore summit is next week.

DAVIS: Well, he said it was all about attitude, which is not all about attitude. I mean, this is incredibly complex negotiation he's going into which you've just heard him say that he doesn't feel the need to really prepare for. I think the question is, you know, he did say they have to denuke. They'll do have to denuclearize which is something that he initially said was going to be a pre-conditioned to this meeting was that they would have to be willing to do that as part of this talk.

But he also said a couple of time this is about getting to know them, him getting to know Kim Jong-un, presumably. And American official is getting to know North Korean officials. If that's all this meeting is about, then they are going to come away from a meeting where they set a pretty high bar. And you just heard him say, I'll handle it, I'm going to take care of it, without anything that they essentially need.

KING: And that's why conservatives, skeptics, everyone should be skeptical whatever your political allegiance, it's about North Korea. But the skeptics who worry the President so wants a deal that he'll go him (ph). When they hear say I don't need a lot of preparation. Their response to that would be wait a minute. You need on paper on the nuclear signs do have. How many missiles of you have? How many centrifuges do you have?

If you're going to denuclearize, what's the timing? How often and how easily, how much you best notice that the inspectors have to give to commit? If this is going to be real deal which are very skeptical, but again, that's what has to be. Now, if the President's point is I'm going to leave that to my team, this is more eyeball to eyeball with Kim Jong-un. Do I trust that he means that now you guys continue to process? That's a somewhat different interpretation.

BALL: Yes. I mean, I think that that was quite revealing of the President's mindset, because he did give us a window into how he is speaking about the summit which is not as a complex structured negotiation over details. But it is about like, as he said, forming that relationship. This jogs on some reporting that we had in the past couple weeks where advisers to the President were annoyed that he wasn't doing a lot of studying, because he doesn't feel like he has to. And he doesn't feel like that's his role in this negotiation.

I also think that, you know, we were talking earlier about how he sees the G7 as distracting from the summit. What that means is not that it takes away time that he would otherwise spend preparing for the summit, but that he sees this summit as a performance, a photo op. It was almost like he was promoting a professional wrestling match there, right, like hyping up the event. Everyone wants to come and watch.

He just wants it to be a big public relations coup. And what's troubling about that to some of the President's critics who think he's not tough enough on North Korea if they feel that it's a public relations coup for the North Koreans simply to have this photo op.

KING: Without a doubt. And also if that is the case, that he has an incredibly short-term attention span, that this one or two days in Singapore matter getting the photo op, getting the moment as opposed to the days, weeks, months, and years after were. If you can get on a constructive path with North Korea, you have to do the business.

MICHAEL SHEAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: And normally, the summits are done in reverse. The work is done ahead of time and the leader-to-leader meetings are what sort of seals the deal and caps off the agreement. And I think there's a lot of worry to your point that if the President agrees to a framework that then locks in the negotiators, you know, that it pre-prescribes what could happen and that might not be the kind of deal that you'd want to get to at the end if you've done it directly. KING: And to that point, if you're the Prime Minister of Japan -- forget us at the table here, if you're the Prime Minister of japan sitting next to the President of the United States, and you were the neighborhood and the President's big concern, and of course the Pentagon's big concern is the intercontinental ballistics missiles that can reach the United States.

If you're the Prime Minister of Japan, you're saying, woo, woo, woo, they all such as medium range missiles all the time. They love them over our country all the time.

What you can talk? You can talk about that. What restrictions will be on that if you're into a process for years, are they going to agree not to test those? So preparation actually does matter.

KAPUR: It's the relationship theory of diplomacy. We'll sit down at a table, the chemistry is good, we agree and everything will be fine. You know, I think to your point it will be much, much more complicated than that.

One thing the President mentioned which struck me was that he said the sanctions are going to remain until North Korea denuclearized. I still don't understand how the White House wants to close this loop. What do you give North Korea to make them believe it's going to be worth their while to denuclearize. What do you give North Korea to make them believe it's going to be worth their while to denuclearize when we know that they had viewed this nuclear weapon that's essential to their survival as a regime? Does the White House have a plan for that?

KING: Right. Another key point that Abe will bring up, if you're going to give back economic or military or food aid, what level, how fast and what are you getting in exchange for it a nuclear conversation is going to take years and years and years, all right?

The North Korea summit in the news, trade talks with Europeans in the news, with Japan news and another big deal in the news. The administration's latest deal is with China, have some Democrats and Republicans agreeing, but it's not exactly what the President wants to hear.

[10:44:48] That's next.


KING: Welcome back. The Trump administration struck a big deal with China today, ignoring threats of a revolt in Congress. The Commerce Secretary says Chinese telecom giant ZTE gets a clean stake after agreeing to pay take $1 billion fine to bring in an American monitoring team and to replace its board chairman.


WILBUR ROSS, COMMERCE SECRETARY: It is imposes the most strict compliance that we've ever had with any company, American or foreign. I think this is a very, very well publicized, very important message to other parties, don't fool around with our export controls, or you're really going to get hurt.


KING: If you haven't been tracking this, ZTE was officially walled out of buying American parts because it violated U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea. But that cheating is a secondary point for ZTE critics in Congress. They say the company is part of China's intellectual property theft and China's global espionage network.

[12:50:15] But the President cutting this deal knowing, and we see it already, that both Democrats and Republicans in Congress are saying, "We will try to stop you."

KAPUR: Call me skeptical that there will be a serious revolt in Congress. I mean, there will be a lot of sternly worded statements. There'll be a lot of criticisms from Democrats. I think Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, is saying the President wants to make China great again. And that you'll see real this time from Republican members.

The question is, is Speaker Ryan going to put something on the House to try to confront the President? Is Majority Leader McConnell going to put something on the Senate that goes against the President? Within six months of an election, were they know they need him and they need his base and he cannot afford to take him on?

I think no matter what the disagreement is on tariffs, Republican leaders, strong leaders, agree with the President. They have suggested they're not going to, you know, try to legislatively stop him. So call me skeptical that they won't.

BALL: But the one time that they have done that was on Russia, and that was a sanctions issue. And that was an overwhelming vote because that was actually a policy issue that really motivates a lot of Conserves and Republicans, and they're very unified on it. And so unlike many other private disagreements that they have with the President, you know, free trade in China is an area where you do hear them speaking out much more and much more overtly disagreeing with the President then on a number of other issues.

Now, I thought it's probably right that they won't actually do anything but you are hearing more dissent. And it's a fascinating dichotomy in the President's policy that they'd played out, that on the one hand, we were just talking about how he hasn't been afraid to be tough with the Europeans and to followthrough on his isolationism and some unilateralism.

On the other hand, with China where he had so much tough rhetoric, probably the toughest outside of Mexico --

KING: Where they campaign, yes.

BALL: -- he has these other objectives that he wants. He wants this North Korea summit. He wants to achieve this breakthrough that other presidents failed to achieve. And, you know, we can sit here and say, "Oh, he's not doing this normally but the normal channels haven't worked."

KING: Right.

BALL: He's doing something different, but those objectives are at odds and it's been fascinating to see him try to split the difference, or in the eyes of some, go soft on China.

KING: And he's soft on China for his playbook. There's also this group, and this predates President Trump but it's been exacerbated under President Trump because of this ZTE thing. This group had says the United States government is just failing to take seriously the national security threat from Chinese technology.

Marco Rubio among them, saying the deal with ZTE may keep them from selling to Iran and North Korea. That's good, but there will be nothing to keep -- do nothing to keep, let's say, from corporate and national security espionage. This is dangerous.

Now Congress needs to act to keep America safe from China. I assure you with 100 percent confidence, ZTE is a much greater national security threat than steel from Argentina or Europe, very bad deal. This is a point they've been making for years, that China is, A, from intellectual property perspective, steals anything it gets its hand on and, B, uses these technology companies to listen, to snoop, to spy and to steal.

SHEAR: And the irony of this deal announcement on ZTE coming the day before he leaves for this G7 Summit where the Europeans and the Canadians are already furious that the President would say that somehow they're steel and aluminum imports are national security threats when then he goes, and on an issue that there is great consensus really is a national security threat, he says, "That's OK. You know, it's a little fine." You know, I mean, I don't mean to minimize the deal, but from the view of the Europeans and the Canadians, that's crazy.

KING: That's an excellent standpoint (inaudible).

KAPUR: That's the irony here, the trade war with China is on hold. The trade war with American allies, Canada, Mexico and Europe, is moving forward. China, of course, holds the keys President Trump's plans on North Korea.

KING: We'll watch it play out. All fascinating we put it together.

Up next, the President's polls numbers are up. But that's not necessarily good news as Republicans try to keep their hold on Congress.


[12:53:00] KING: New, NBC and "Wall Street Journal" pullout today gives us some new insights into the midterm election landscape. They asked this question, "Which party do you want to control Congress?" Fifty percent favored the Democrats, 40 percent favored Republicans. Do you want someone who's a check on the President? Yes, big gap. Forty-eight percent say they would vote yes, for some of those who check on the President 23 percent say no.

Good news for the President in this final number. His overall approval rating actually up a bit, up to 44 percent. What do we make of this?

We're in the middle of June. The President's approval number is going up. Republicans like that. Still historically low compared to other presidents but he has come from high 30s into the low 40s. That's a progress, but the10th -- the check on the President and the 10-point split tells me Democrats should still be reasonably optimistic.

KAPUR: There's some tension there, right? The President's approval is going up but it's not translating to support for his party. Republican voters love the President. They hold their own elective leaders in much lower regard.

Democrats have a 10-point lead on the generic ballot. If true, that is a Democratic House. That is a wave. Other polls have showed it less than that.

The most interesting statistic here that stuck out to me, health care is the number one issue for voters. Democrats have a 3-1 advantage over Republicans on that. This is why the Democrats like to talk -- let's say, they would like to talk about nothing but health care between now and November.

BALL: Yes, I think midterm elections are about who cares who not show up. And that's the enthusiasm gap that we've been seeing. So far, it's also a flashback to 2010 where a lot of Democratic voters who liked Barack Obama didn't feel like showing up on a Tuesday in November for some random Democrat in Congress. And that's the problem the Republicans fear they could be having.

KING: The Trump they stay some because they don't like, but they don't like Congress much to begin with.

DAVIS: Well, and it's also true that Trump, more than most Republican presidents, is a totally separate thing in the minds of voters than the Republican Party is. And that is if you're a Republican looking at those poll results, that is not much comfort to you that the President is ticking up a little bit when you see that people want someone who's going to be more of check wants someone who's seen is not necessarily an ally.

KING: As the pendulum swings, the President's numbers go up a little bit but that generic ballot advantage to the Democrats up a little bit, too. Midterm election so goes with the primary seasons, that'd be a little fun. Stay with us. We have a long way to go.

Thanks for joining us "Inside Politics" today. See you back here this time tomorrow. Don't go anywhere. We'll starts right now. Have a great day.