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INSIDE POLITICS

Pelosi Rebukes Maxine Waters for Remarks; Rare Protest At Grand Bazaar In Iran's Capital; Trump Campaigned This Weekend With Nevada Sen. Heller; Sessions Doubles Down On Prosecuting People Who Come To The U.S. Illegally; Trump Welcomes King Of Jordan To The White House Today. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired June 25, 2018 - 12:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[12:30:00] ELIANA JOHNSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Certainly this preceded Trump but he has really exacerbated.

JOHN KING, INSIDE POLITICS HOST: And so of this, the President. But the social media that you can get attention for it, you can also organize so much faster. I'm here. I see somebody, boom. This is exacerbated.

JOHNSON: And so, I think Trump is somebody who himself uses crass rhetoric, holds (ph) personal inform with his opponents and demeans them. And so many people, including members of the general public, feel OK responding in kind to members of his administration. And the question I would pose is, is this a trend that we want to see continue into future, Democratic administrations, Republican administrations.

I'm personally I'm not comfortable with that. I wasn't comfortable when people like, you know, waves (INAUDIBLE) and George W. Bush and Hitler and, you know, hurled personal info at Bill Clinton. I don't like to personalize politics. I prefer civil disagreement and I think you should vote if you don't like the current --

KING: You should vote. You can have organized protests. My point is that -- I'm going to say this and I'll get hammered myself in the social media -- most of the people involved in government are decent human beings who believe what they believe, who are trying to serve, whether Democrats or Republicans, who are trying to serve and they think they're doing the right thing. They work for somebody who disagree with. OK, I get it. You're mad about that. But do you tried to kick them out of a restaurant.

This is from David Axelrod who thinks, in fact, that the left might be getting bated into a place that hurts the left tier by having all these protest and by jetting it up. David Axelrod tweeting, "Kind of amazed and appalled by the number of folks in the left who applauded the exposure of @PressSecretary and her family from a restaurant." I think they were friends, but you get the point. "This, in the end, is a triumph for @realDonaldTrump vision of America. Now we're divided by red plates and blue plates. Sad."

TARINI PARTI, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, BUZZFEED NEWS: I think we're just in the sort of cycle here where the backlash from the left results and the right and Trump supporters just being more and more angry and then supporting him even more. So we're seeing this happen over and over again. But one thing I want to point out is that on behalf of the administration officials who were at some of these restaurants, for example, DHS Secretary and Stephen Miller, it was a little tone deaf on their part to go to Mexican restaurants in such a week -- this was such a hot topic. And I think that was part of the reason why there were such -- the protesters showed up and there was such a response that they got.

KING: Is Nancy Pelosi here disagreeing with Maxine Waters? Maxine Waters had a tweet -- I'm sorry, responding to a CNN politics, Arnold, about Maxine Waters saying, fine, and wherever they are, protest them. Nancy Pelosi tweets in the crucial months ahead, "We must try to make America beautiful again. Trump's daily lack of stability has provoked responses that are predictable but unacceptable. As we go forward, we must conduct elections in a way that achieves unity from sea to shining sea."

Is she kind of saying to her fellow California there, I think you're wrong and Democrats based unto this?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, walking a careful line a little bit. But, look, I think the interesting on those one, you can't paint the left or the right with some homogenous singular brush stroke, right? And Nancy Pelosi is kind of giving a good example.

If you go out on the campaign trail with Democrats right now, they want to talk health care. They want to talk about trade. They want to talk about any number of things. The fight fire with fire on the rhetoric side has not been something that I've seen -- and you guys may have a different experience -- but on the round with some of their front-line candidates.

They know that it doesn't work out for them politically. And so I think, to some degree, that is what leader Pelosi is talking about. And I think it's been a longstanding debate over the course of the last 16 months in the Democratic Party, of how do you fight somebody like Trump who is so unorthodox, who takes tacts that nobody has ever seen before, and is the way to do it to match him word per word, invective statement for invective statement, insult for insult or is it to focus on the issues?

I think when you look at the campaign strategy, the latter is with Democrats and what they think poll numbers show actually works. The former is what gets a lot of social media buzz, what it gives a lot of people riled up and allows people to kind of release what is a lot of anger in the wake of the 16 months. I think, probably speaking for all of us here, you hope the latter isn't the direction that everything is headed but you wonder if at this point given the last 20, 30 years, if we're approaching to far gone.

MARGARET TALEV, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG POLITICS: I think when President Trump invites the sort of debate, he is not inviting people of opposing views into a conversation and may the best idea win.

KING: Yes.

TALEV: He is tempting people into the destruction of a norm, and may the destruction of the norm win. And that is what the strategy is about, is to say, you know, there are no more red lines, there are no more things you can't say. There are no debates. Also some scraps, tear down the judiciary, the press, the courts, what have you. And when you try to match fire for fire, that's implicitly what you're agreeing to take pardon. And the question for journalist, because we all cover social change, any journalist as part of your job is what's driving this. Is President Trump a product of the times or the times if reflecting President Trump leadership.

KING: Hold there both. A simple word, (INAUDIBLE) as always been. Can you sit down at the kitchen table and explain it to mom. If you can, it's probably OK. If you can't, think twice? Cut and picking. Sorry, David, no. Pulling back into your hole.

[12:35:07] Up next, today at the White House, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders will hold an on-camera briefing. Her first in a week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back. Some extraordinary scenes out of Iran today. Take a look at this protest strike at the Grand Bazaar in Tehran. Merchants' frustrated with the nation's struggling economy which has gotten worse since President Trump backout of the Iran nuclear agreement. They're especially nervous about a sharp drop in the value of Iran's currency. Now worth get this half what it was just six months ago,

[12:40:00] Topping our political radar now, South Carolina congressional candidate Katie Arrington should make a full recovery from tough injury suffering a car accident on Friday. That's what her doctor said just a short time ago. The 47-year-old Republican underwent two more surgeries Sunday, including one for a spinal fracture. The driver of the other car died in the wreck which happened 10 days after Arrington beat incumbent Mark Sanford in the House Republican primary.

Rudy Giuliani raffling high level Republican feathers with the campaign appearance today in Louisiana. Probably it would be a fund raiser for Josh Guillory. A congressional hopeful trying to unseat an incumbent back by President Trump and other Republican leaders.

POLITICO reports Giuliani's new girlfriend's works for Guillory's campaign. The President after mixing up to twitter accounts making it clear last night, he supports the incumbent, Congressman Clay Higgins.

A few hours now from event that sadly become a lot less common in recent weeks, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders is set to hold her first White House briefing in a week, just the 5th this month. We should point out though the President has held three news conferences in June.

When we come back, the President was in Nevada over weekend. There's a big immigration debate here in Washington. Nevada, a battleground state where the voters get to weigh on the issue come November.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[12:45:24] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our issue is strong borders, no crime. Their issue is open borders, let MS-13 all over our country. That's what's going to happen if you listen to them. They think that that's a good issue for them. I don't think being weak on the border, being pathetically weak on the border, I don't think that's a good issue. I may be wrong. I think I got elected largely because we are strong on the border. I really believe it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That was the President Saturday campaigning out here in Nevada for the most vulnerable Republican incumbent Senator Dean Heller. The President out here, remember, Hillary Clinton, just barely, but Hillary Clinton won this state in 2016. The President now hoping his hard line on immigration can help Dean Heller get to the finish line. Note that Dean Heller didn't mention immigration in his remarks out there, but the President out in Nevada making his case -- the Attorney General in Nevada right now, we'll bring you some of that sound in a minute -- the President trying to make the case that tough on immigration will help in this midterm election year.

Look at the demographic breakdown. Latino voters, 28 percent. Democrats think they are queue (ph) with the Senate race. White voters more the conservatives in the central part of the state. If you pull it back here, this is where they live here. The President wants to turn them up.

A highly competitive state where the President is making his case. Well, guess what? While he was out campaigning for the Republican, Dean Heller, Elizabeth Warren, the liberal icon out there campaigning for the Democrat, Jacky Rosen. She says on immigration, the President is not only wrong, but dead wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: He's called for cutting illegal immigration in half. He's broken America's promise to give dreamers a chance to build a future. And now Trump wants to create new family detention camps to lock up more people, triggering a whole new crisis. That's what Donald Trump and his Republican enablers stand for. Hatefulness, ugliness and cruelty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: So some of this is being debated as we speak today, this week on Capitol Hill and Congress. Some of these will be settled by voters in November. And I can't think of a better state, more competitive state, if you will, to have voters weigh in and see what they think about this position. It is noteworthy, though, that while the President was out there saying, you know, we want strong borders, they want open borders. Dean Heller talked about tax cuts and in the President's presence anyway said zip about immigration. Does that tell you something?

TALEV: Yes. It tells you that if you're Republican in a swing race, you want to talk about the one sure thing which is the tax reform policy, at least so far in terms of how it's playing out and people are interpreting it. There are places where you can rattle up the base and have greatly improved turnout, potentially, by talking about immigration, but Nevada is not one of them.

KING: And yet Dean Heller is certainly hoping that the President turns out every last conservative, right?

MATTINGLY: Yes. Look, in a overall low turnout in the state midterm year where conservatives rallied up and very enthused about the President, the President's health care matter enormously and Dean Heller could find a pathway there. I think the bigger issue and you see this across kind of inerrancy (ph) either recruits or folks that are trying to defend seats, nobody is better than President Trump at

defining and slicing and dicing an opponent.

And so, while you might not agree with him on everything, and Dean Heller has kind of a tortured history over the course in the last three years on that front, you bring him and try and define with major headlines on every single newspaper in the state who Jacky Rosen is and what he think she would mean is very, very valuable. When you get a little bit deeper into the weeds, on the policy side of things, Dean Heller has got some issues with that state. But if that state has no turnout and conservatives are excited and he's helped defined Dean Heller's opponent, then there's value there or at least more value there than the alternative at this point.

KING: The Attorney General Jeff Sessions is the valleys Nevada in Reno at a conference of school safety officers, but he just talked about this issue, we talked earlier in the program. Big retreat from the administration. It was Jeff Sessions who announced the zero tolerance policy. It's Donald Trump's policy, but Jeff Sessions who announced it. We know Jeff Sessions is tough on immigration.

Listen to Jeff Sessions here saying, we still plan to be tough, but --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: We are going to continue to prosecute those adults who enter here illegally. We are going to do everything in our power, however, to avoid separating families. All federal agencies are working hard to accomplish this goal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: It's a big switch in the sense that when zero tolerance was put in place, Jeff Sessions said publicly, to his credit, he was quite open about this. That this is a deterrent -- I mean this as a deterrent so you need to know if you cross the border, you likely will be separated with your family. JOHNSON: Yes, he said, if you want to stay here with your child, don't come here. If you cross the border illegally, we will separate you. But I do think it's an indication.

[12:50:07] And I can tell you that Stephen Miller in the White House has said, this policy is over. There is no going back to child separation because they simply don't have the resources right now to keep parents with their kids. They are pessimistic about how a court will rule and pessimistic that Congress will act within a time frame that will allow them to both to keep children and parents together and to continue a zero tolerance policy of prosecuting parents.

So, my prediction is that the policy falls apart and that there is a return really to catch and release, which is an enormous defeat. And, you know, the thing I would say that is bad here is we never had a real policy debate because I think catch and release remains a problem. It's not feasible for as many immigrants as are coming across the borders, including asylum seekers, to simply come over the border and be released into the country. But there is never a debate between that policy and what would be a realistic enforcement policy.

KING: And it's not a debate because there is no consensus within the Republican conference or within the Republicans and Democrats in Washington that goes back more than a decade. Your point about catch and release is not a new phenomenon here. The Flores ruling is not a new phenomenon here. But there is this view in the House that they're still going to have a vote this coming week on legislation that would protect the dreamers, that might deal with this family separation issue, that would deal with some of these other issues. Even though I think the prospect of it passing are less than zero.

Listen this morning, here's the House Majority Leader, a guy who should be able to count the votes, and then a conservative leader who says, I don't think so.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R), MAJORITY LEADER: I'm very optimistic because this is a consensus bill where people come together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So in the bigger deal, one word, pass or fail?

REP. MARK MEADOWS (R), FREEDOM CAUCUS CHAIRMAN: I would think fail right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Correct, right? Not going to happen.

MATTINGLY: Yes. My understanding is the Congressman from North Carolina Mark Meadows has a pretty solid idea of the whip count right now. It's not there. It hasn't been there for a decade. There is no matter of changes over the course of a 72-hour period that is going to change that dynamic right now. The reality remains in the Republican conference that there isn't 218 votes. If you're not going to talk to Democrats and if you're not going to try and come across the aisle, 218 votes don't exist for something that addresses the DACA issue in a way that makes moderates happy and addresses the border security or things like catch and release anyway that's going to make conservatives happy.

PARTI: And when this happen, himself comes out and says that immigration is not needed. We don't need to focus on this issue. But before the election, all hope there is going to be lost.

KING: Wasting their time, I think were his words.

Up next, King Abdullah of Jordan at the White House today. Does that mean a little piece of fact on check? Well the President Trump signing laws in the region says one of the key players doesn't seem interested.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:56:44] KING: Welcome back. About an hour from now, President Trump will welcome Jordan's King Abdullah II and his wife, Queen Rania to the White House. One agenda item, the timetable for the long- awaited administration blueprint for peace talks between the Israeli and Palestinians. The President's point on that issue, his son-in- law, Jared Kushner, is in the region and raising eyebrows by casting doubt on a key player, on whether a key player there is really interested in a peace process.

Here's what Jared Kushner told the Palestinian newspaper. He said, "President Abbas is committed to peace and I have no reason not to believe him. But I question President Abbas' ability or desire to finish the deal. He has the same talking points that haven't changed in the past 25 years. A peace plan hasn't been achieved during that period."

That does not sound terribly optimistic. So is it a nudge to get Abbas to move or is it the early rationalization of this isn't working, therefore, it's not our fault?

TALEV: Well, it might be a little bit of all of the above. The language they uses in this interview which the White House helped to push out and make sure everybody thought over the weekend is really interesting because he talks about how long Abbas has been around, sort of about how weak he is internally within the Palestinian, you know, people. And to me the question it raises, so what end or is the U.S. will replace Abbas with a different Palestinian leader, or is the U.S. trying to make some of kind of weird average to Hamas or is the U.S. just saying, we're going to end up releasing this peace plan. The Palestinians aren't going to be a part of it. Get ready, here it comes.

You know, it's still -- I think always we've been expecting the last quarter of the year to see this plan. But the goal is always by the end of this year. We still have some time but it doesn't look like the Palestinians are going to be part of the rollout, let's say. PARTI: Right. And this is not surprising, because everything we've seen Jared Kushner get involved with, it seems to have dragged on and there have been a lot of questions about where the final product is. And I think this is just part of what he's done at the White House.

KING: And the Palestinians view the Trump administration as lopsided in favor of Israel. So maybe they were looking during this trip is there any outreach from Jared Kushner's (INAUDIBLE) branch but they didn't get it. In the same interview, Mr. Kushner offered little in the way of enticements to Mr. Abbas. Asked what the leaders of other Arab nations wanted to see an Israeli-Palestinians settlement, the White House aide mentioned nothing about a sovereign Palestinian state or of Palestinian refugee." So the White House position seems to be, you want to process, you come to us.

JOHNSON: Yes, I think that's exactly right. And the White House, Jared Kushner can release a plan, but it doesn't mean that plan moves anywhere, goes anywhere, and I think that's precisely what their plan is right now. It never seemed to me that this White House was really going to push for any sort of substantive negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. I think they're fine to make their symbolic moves aligning themselves with Israel. I think they think it's a good base issue as well as the right thing to do. And that's going to be their moves on Israeli-Palestinian policy.

KING: Candidate Trump did say he thought he could get a deal. He thought it would pretty easy. Talking points haven't changed in the past 25 years. I took that as if you want -- you have to move. The Palestinians have to give something up if they want a process that works.

All right, we'll continue to track that story as well. Thanks for joining us tonight in INSIDE POLITICS. Hope to see you back here this time tomorrow. Have a great afternoon. Wolf starts right now.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer. It's 1:00 p.m. here in Washington. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much --