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Trump Discussed Playmate Payoff on Cohen Recording; Trump Says He Misspoke in Helsinki After Backlash at Home. Aired 8-9a ET
Aired July 22, 2018 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:14] JOHN KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): The president and the playmate.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Were you in love with him?
KAREN MCDOUGAL, FORMER PLAYBOY PLAYMATE: I was. Yes.
COOPER: And do you think he was in love with you?
MCDOUGAL: He was, yes.
KING: Secret recording of Donald Trump talking about buying her silence.
Plus, first, Helsinki and now the White House. The president offers Vladimir Putin another summit gift.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: What is Putin blackmailing President Trump with? Putin appears to be president Trump's puppeteer.
KING: And there's no place like Kansas? A road test for the Democratic resistance.
ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: This is the defining moment, not just for the state of Kansas but for this nation.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: This country is in the midst of a political revolution in Kansas, in Vermont and in the Bronx.
KING: INSIDE POLITICS, the biggest stories sourced by the best reporters, now!
KING: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. To our viewers in the United States and around the world, thank you for sharing your Sunday.
President Trump is angry at the feds and at his long time personal lawyer, big legal questions now about a secret recording in which candidate Trump discusses buying the silence of a Playboy centerfold.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCDOUGAL: I think somebody is lying and I can tell you it's not me. It's a little hurtful. I guess I understand because he's trying to protect his family, his image and things like that.
COOPER: Were you in love with him?
MCDOUGAL: I was, yeah.
COOPER: And do you think he was in love with you?
MCDOUGAL: He was, yeah.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Plus, global fallout and major White House turmoil. Vladimir Putin gets a second summit invite, this one at the White House as the president tries to escape his horrendous Helsinki reviews.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Dan Coats came to me and some others. They said, they think it's Russia. I have President Putin, he just said it's not Russia. I will say this: I don't see anybody reason why it would be.
The sentence should be I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia, sort of a double negative. So, you can put that in and that probably clarifies things pretty good by itself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And the Democratic resistance has a new millennial star. Does this help turn red districts blue or remind Middle America why it's so often votes Republican?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OCASIO-CORTEZ: And they said what we did in the Bronx, no one would care about it in Kansas.
Because we want to be a nation that allows improved and expanded Medicare for all.
A nation that will not stop until every child is born with the opportunity to go to college or trade school free of cost.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: With us this Sunday to share their reporting and their insights, Lisa Lerer of "The Associated Press", CNN's Manu Raju, Josh Dawsey of "The Washington Post", and "Politico's" Eliana Johnson.
In a moment, the question that dominated most of the past week, why does President Trump refuse to be tough with Vladimir Putin, refuse to consistently call out the Russian leader for who and what he is? But first, the tabloid stunner that closed the week and this now --
take a look her -- the subject of front page headlines across America. President, secret recording, payoff and playmate are words one does not expect to find in the same sentence, but that is where we find ourselves this Sunday and there are giant legal and political questions as a result.
Your favorite president did nothing wrong and was part of a presidential tweet Saturday, a tweet that made clear the president's anger at the both his long time lawyer Michael Cohen and the authorities who seized this and other recordings during a raid on Cohen's home and his office. Inconceivable is the term the president used for the raid, and the brass Cohen decision to record him.
Now, Cohen isn't talking, but his lawyer tweeted that it would be wrong to believe what the president is saying about this, ending the tweet with this taunt, why so angry?
Quick context, that recording was made at Trump Tower two months before the 2016 election. Cohen we are told suggests paying Playboy model Karen McDougal to buy the rights to her story, which is which that she had a months-long affair with then businessman Trump back in 2006. A source tells CNN the president asked Cohen how such an arrangement would work? The president in the past has denied the affair and denied any knowledge of payments to McDougal.
And you start there. What has been said on the president's behalf about this in the past, some of it clearly not true. The question is, what is the legal jeopardy for Mr. Cohen and the president now?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSION CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and that's one of the big questions going forward, whether or not any of this involves violation of federal law, campaign finance law perhaps and anything more significant implicating the president, whether or not Michael Cohen is going to corporate with federal authorities against the president among other issues.
[08:05:05] Clearly, the president is concerned, otherwise he wouldn't tweeted like he did yesterday, suggesting that Michael Cohen may have done something illegal, even though it's not illegal to record a conversation one way under New York law. But, you know, there's the legal side and there's also the political side. The president campaign was dishonest and frankly lied to the American public about his relationship with Karen McDougal, now we know from this tape reporting obviously that it existed, there was no such relationship before.
This comes the same way they completely denied the Stormy Daniels situation. The president said he had no knowledge, knew nothing about this payment, Rudy Giuliani said, well, he did know about this payment. He was involved with it. So, clearly, there's a lot of questions at the White House.
KING: All happening at the same time frame, last couple months of the presidential election, the payment to Stormy Daniels, the payment that "National Enquirer ended up making a payment, and this conversation, well, should they buy the rights away from the "National Enquirer" -- I'm sorry, I interrupted.
JOSH DAWSEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: When you do reporting in Trump world, you often find that people are perpetually concerned about Michael Cohen. He's Trump's New York lawyer. Thought he was going to come in the White House.
Early on, he was down in Washington, White House aides and chief of staff Reince Priebus and others said, you know, this guy doesn't need to be in here all the time. I mean, he was the president's kind of back man and fixer in New York and the folks in Washington do not know what this guy knows, what documents he possessed, how many conversations he taped, how he behaved for decades or at least one decade or more as the president's lawyer.
And if you talk to people around the president, you often hear concern about Michael Cohen and you can see from the president's tweet this weekend, he's not concerned about Michael Cohen. This is the one who Cohen told associates that he doesn't feel the president has been loyal enough to him. He's complaining about his legal bills. He's not someone who's really in the president's corner anymore.
When you have someone who was your top fixer, I think is the right word, who's no longer on your corner, it's not good for you.
LISA LERER, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Also, the whole point of a fixer as I understood it not having one myself unfortunately is that the fixer fixes things without the principal knowing and that was certainly what we heard from some Republicans, some people around Trump, was that the president didn't necessarily know what Cohen was doing.
This tape blows that up. He's speaking to him about this matter on a tape. So that really -- that blows up any sort of plausible deniability.
The president knew what was going on. He was involved and I think that's a big problem considering as you rightfully point out, nobody knows what other tapes exist, what's about -- what they are about or what's coming at all. But I would imagine that they are likely going to be conversations with the president and that seems pretty problematic for the White House.
KING: And the president -- I'm sorry.
ELIANA JOHNSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: You know, so this incident to me in isolation is difficult for me to get excited about or get into a lather about. It seems unsurprising to me. We knew during the campaign that the president was dishonest. We knew that he was a philanderer. We knew that he surrounded himself with people like Michael Cohen, who did these sorts of things.
The president's response also seems typical to me. It doesn't necessarily signal concern to me. It signals he's thin-skinned, that this guy is getting under his skin.
What strikes me is the possibility of what does this guy have on him in the future? Is there something bigger than this incident that exists? Because this to me doesn't seem like anything all that significant.
KING: The question becomes, is there some either campaign finance or banking record violation in terms of how the money was moved around? That would be the question going forward.
The president is mad. He's up in Bedminster, New Jersey, in his resort of the weekend. You saw the tweets yesterday. He's also trying to change the subject as he often does tweeting about other things, including last night, the rigged witch hunt. This morning, he's at it again.
But last night, it was headed by the 13 angry Democrats, no collusion, no obstruction, the president going on there. It's interesting. You know, I know from a conversations he's had with friends, he's mad at Michael Cohen. He's used choice words describing his longtime friend and fixer. He's trying to do this now.
Again, but just for a little context, again, the president lashing out, he calls it the witch hunt, he calls it rigged. This is the president's own FBI director speaking publicly again this week saying sorry, boss, it's not the way I see it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: I do not believe special counsel Mueller is on a witch hunt. I think it's a professional investigation conducted by a man that I've known to be a straight shooter in all of my interactions with him in my past life and government and certainly since then. So I don't think it's a witch hunt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: How does that play with the boss when these guys repeatedly get asked about this at a time where you see the stories in the newspaper again today, releasing of the documents in the Carter Page FISA warrant? The president says they show one thing. If you read the documents, they actually don't show what the president says they show at all.
But you can sense a tension as we get more activity out of the special counsel's office, tension in the White House.
DAWSEY: Well, the president's rhetoric on the investigation puts folks like Christopher Wray in a tough spot, because he has, you know, tens of thousands of agents and law enforcement officials that he's responsible for who obviously don't see it as a witch hunt.
[08:10:04] And the president -- I mean, he can't really publicly sharply disagree with the president either because the president can fire him. I mean, there you saw him trying to walk the line without repudiating the president, but just saying here's what I think the facts are, right?
When the president's messaging exercise on this probe I think is actually pretty successful. He has lots of people convinced that it is a witch hunt. You've seen approval numbers go down for special counsel Robert Mueller's probe.
There's been all sorts of incendiary charges, some of them not true obviously about this investigation, and then you have folks who are playing it out, Rod Rosenstein, Christopher Wray, obviously Bob Mueller, who are in a tough spot, because when he's president of the United States, and when he tweets these sorts of things, you know, it's hard to go against a guy who paid your check or keeps you in office.
RAJU: And the risk in doing that, too, of course, is he does not put any pressure on Russia for allegedly, these Russians were indicted for hacking and attacking the American elections, the president has still not called for an extradition. He still has not attacked the -- raised any concerns about what was found eight days ago by these indictments, instead he's been continuing to attack. This is a rigged witch hunt to suffice -- to help his own political purposes.
LERER: But as Josh points out, it is kind of smart pr because in the end, particularly in Democrats win the House, this is likely to be a political process. If Democrats win the House and they decide to pursue some kind of impeachment action, which is certainly what the grassroots of their base, and the liberal wing of their base wants them to do, it becomes a political game in Washington. So, laying out the president's narrative how is setting up for that moment.
The thing is there's been no counter narrative because the investigation, you know, Robert Mueller, has been a black box. So, the question is what happens once we start hearing from Mueller, once the investigation starts speaking? Then there's pushback to the narrative and does the dynamics of that -- do those polling numbers start to shift?
KING: Are we having the same conversation at the ends of November as we're having now as we watched what plays in the next few weeks? I think it's a big question.
Up next for us here, just heard Russia -- despite the Helsinki mess, Putin gets a second summit invite, stunning to even some members of the president's inner circle.
[08:16:02] KING: To Russia now, including one last trip to the tabloids. Look here, who's your Vladdy? That's the tongue in cheek take of "The New York Daily News" mocking the president as a pawn of Vladimir Putin.
That was often in more polite terms the big debate in Washington and in many global capitals this week. President Trump was weak and deferential in Helsinki. Not once publicly calling out Russian attacks or Russian aggression against its neighbors.
Once back in Washington, facing a revolt from his own team and his political party, he claimed he misspoke. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Dan Coats came to me and some others, they said they think it's Russia. I have president Putin, he just said it's not Russia. I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be.
I said the word would instead of wouldn't. The sentence should have been I don't see any reason why I wouldn't or why it wouldn't be Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: But the president's cleanup was anything but clean. He still said others might also have meddled and answered no when asked if Russia is still meddling. So, this to clean up the cleanup.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF GLOR, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: You haven't condemned Putin specifically. Do you hold him personally responsible?
TRUMP: Well, I would because he's in charge of the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: But any hope the president was about to turn tough was quickly dashed. The new invitation for a second Putin summit, this one at the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Getting along with President Putin, getting along with Russia is a positive, not a negative.
Now, with that being said, if that doesn't work out, I'll be the worst enemy he's ever had. The worst he's ever had.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: It was a dizzying week. What did we learn about Russia policy? Anything?
JOHNSON: I think we learned that Russia policy in this administration operates on parallel tracks. There is the president's policy, which he doesn't seem to share with his senior national security team. I don't know we've ever seen that before. And which is a bit concerning and then so we've got the president's policy on one side and out of the senior national security on the other side operating on parallel tracks.
RAJU: There's a lot we don't know too. I mean, there's a lot -- they had a private one on one meeting that we really are getting more information about from what the Kremlin is reading out that what the White House is reading out. There are -- KING: That happened again yesterday.
KING: Secretary of state spoke to his counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, and the Russian foreign ministry put out a lengthy statement. The administration, crickets.
RAJU: Yes, and, look, we may learn more this week when Mike Pompeo comes to Capitol Hill and testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Perhaps they could shed more light about exactly what happened, but the president is trying to have the second summit, suggesting the first summit was a great success. But, you know, if the public comments are any indication about what he said privately, I'm not sure that would give anyone any reassurance that he was talking tough to Putin and he was in line with his national security leaders are saying.
LERER: But you had clearly the national security guys trying to reassure allies and reassure the country the taking this seriously and concern about Russian interference in the election. Of course, that's immediately undercut not only by the president and his -- I believe you guys called it a week of walk-backs, but also what the government is actually doing, right? Who's handling it?
DHS has a piece, DOJ has a piece. But normally in these situations, this is a serious thing. There would be a point person. There would be some kind of commission, some kind of coordinated effort to get a handle around what the interference was, how do you stop it from happening again. That is not what's going on as far as anybody knows from the government. That is really problematic.
DAWSEY: The disconnect here like Eliana said is that his administration does not even know if there were any deals made. One of the senior military officials said this week, we're not sure exactly what he said behind closed doors. The White House hasn't provided any answers, and the president takes a far warmer tone towards Putin than anyone else in his own party in Washington, who voted 98-0 against him, than Mitch McConnell, than Paul Ryan, than Jim Mattis.
[08:20:07] You know, all of these see Putin as kind of a thuggish strong man and you can't make deals with. The president thinks behind closed doors, he can charm him. He can get Vladimir Putin to do things other leaders haven't been able to.
We saw the same thing with Kim Jong-un in North Korea. He went over. He called Kim Jong-un terrific, talked about his personality, his deal making skills. This guy, he's killed his own family and starved his own people.
When the president wants -- I mean, there could be more nefarious reasons, right, that we don't know. But one likely explanation is that when the president likes dealing with these strongmen leaders, he respects them, he thinks they are smart, he thinks they're shrewd, he likes the way they run their country, and when he's over there, he's charming to their face to try to get something out of them. I don't think he necessarily understands how these folks interact and how they operate.
KING: To get what out of him?
KING: To get what? The Russians are saying that the president -- the two presidents are on the same page when it comes to Syria. Excuse me? That the two presidents are on the same page when it comes to Russia's role in the Middle East? Excuse me? No public comments from the president about Ukraine at all.
It is very rare to get any bipartisan agreement in this town in these days but this past week on Capitol Hill, you did get it. The Republicans and Democrats say the president's Russian performance, especially in Helsinki, was weak.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: It was offensive. It was a showing level of submission before a dictator, before Vladimir Putin.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: It's imperative that he understand that he's misjudging Putin. I don't think he was prepared as well as he should have been.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Most Americans when they have their home broken into, they upgrade their security system. They don't invite the burglar over for dinner.
REP. WILL HURD (R-TX), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I've seen the Russian intelligence and, you know, manipulate many people in my career and I never would have thought that the U.S. president would be one of them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Striking there, the last part, former CIA operative, Will Hurd there, a Republican from Texas, in a tough race, we should be clear about that, politics are interesting this year.
But the level of critique and condemnation, we haven't seen that, maybe a little bit post Charlottesville would be the only comparison I can think of. But will anything come of it? Are they just venting at the president? Will they do anything about it?
RAJU: Well, look, the one thing that may come of it is possibly these sanctions package as being discussed in the Senate right now, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to at least -- the committee process to be begin. There's a bipartisan bill by Marco Rubio and Chris Van Hollen that possibly could get some traction.
However, you're going to need significant support in the House and White House's support if not enough to override a veto. So, there's a long way to go. There was that resolution that was passed in the Senate to reject the notion of letting Russians interrogate any Americans but Republicans did block another symbolic resolution to rebuke the president more broadly on Russia, what happened in Helsinki.
So, it's unclear what more --
KING: And you heard quickly from Vladimir Putin comes to Washington in the fall. He's not coming to Capitol Hill. They don't want any part of that.
But, again, just words or actions?
LERER: Well, I mean, frankly, Republicans have a bit of a problem on this issue because President Trump is changing what the Republican Party stands for. He's done it on tariffs and he's' doing it on Russia.
When you look at the numbers, more Republicans now say that they are OK with having warmer relations with Russia, that they approve of how he handled the summit this past week. So, you have these Republicans in Capitol Hill who are playing by the old rules, by the pre-Trump rules. That's not where the base necessarily is anymore.
And that's something that they are really going to have to finesse, and that's why you did see more, you know, outrage from Republicans this week than you have seen on previous issues, but it was far from a universal condemnation.
KING: To that point, just quickly, I just want to note, new "Washington Post"/ABC poll this morning, overall approval, the president's handling of the summit, just 33 percent of Americans approve, 8 percent of Dems approved, 33 percent of independents approved.
But, you're right, 66 percent of Republicans. If this president is in touch with the Republican base, if he does something, they think it's OK. We'll see as we go forward there.
And just to the point about Marco Rubio, he'll be with Jake Tapper next on "STATE OF THE UNION". So, stay with us.
Up next for us here, the challenge of working for a president who does what he wants when he wants.
And to that end, our politicians are saying the darndest things this week courtesy of the FBI director, Christopher Wray.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: Pretty common to meet somebody and have them introduce themselves, and then say, I just want you to know, we're all praying for you. So, I always say thank you and then my third reaction is, I haven't seen TV in the last two hours. Is this all of the other stuff or something new happened?
(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[08:28:55] KING: Welcome back.
And it's not just what the president does that causes so much disruption and controversy, often how he does things is just as important and controversial. Like inviting Vladimir Putin to the White House without telling some top members of your own national security team or as four of CNN international correspondents tell us here, turning the traditional global world order on its head.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: I'm Nic Robertson in Salisbury. In the days before President Trump met with President Putin, British prime minister asked President Trump to raise the issue of Sergey Skripal, the poisoned former Russian spy here in the U.K. It's not clear if that happened in the closed door nearly two-hour meeting between President Trump and President Putin.
British officials have been quiet since that meeting. They would have hoped that President Trump would have pushed President Putin on that issue of attacking the U.S. elections because President Putin is believed to have attacked U.K. democracy and U.K. elections as well. Trump is seen to Britain now in some ways as a weakening ally.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Atika Shubert in Berlin, where Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, has said the world can no longer rely on the super power of the U.S. to keep world order. This cover from German weekly "Ders Spiegel" kind of sums it up. This is after the NATO summit, a monstrous President Trump looking to devour Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel.
What happened? Well, at the NATO summit, Trump berated Merkel for spending less than 2 percent on defense and he also made the extraordinary claim that Germany was under the total control of Russia.
As President Trump is attacking allies and embracing adversaries, what has been Merkel's response? She says that Europe has to stay united and take a bigger role in solving saving the world' problems.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Nick Paton Walsh in Montenegro where people are trying to shrug off with a degree of humor President Trump's comments about not coming to the defense of this NATO member.
But really it strikes at the heart of a real issue here. Before this tiny coastal enclave joined the NATO alliance, Russia tried to exert influence, even some say stage a coup in October 2016. Russia lost out, they joined NATO all the same but still there's a real delicacy here over this particular issue.
The foreign minister saying yes, that they are trying to laugh this off. They still feel Article 5 of the NATO treaty applies. They still feel safe but also accepting this may well have been music to Russia's ears.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Matthew chance in Moscow, one of the few places outside the White House where that Helsinki meeting has been so highly-praised. The Russian foreign minister called the talks magnificent, better than super. P
Putin has been slightly more restrained saying that useful agreements were made. The Kremlin has also grounded on critics of President Trump, accusing them of sacrificing ties with Russia for political gain.
Concerns are growing here that a backlash in the United States could eventually make the tense relations with Washington even more strained.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Interesting perspective there from our correspondents around the world. To Matthew Chance's point, Russian foreign minister saying better than super -- one of the big surprises here in Washington was this public discord among members of team Trump about how the President did this.
The fact that he had that long one on one private meeting, only translators in the room with Vladimir Putin; the Russians have characterized all these agreements, all this common ground. The U.S. side as you noted just still scrambling, trying to figure out exactly what happened here.
Listen to the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats when he was asked, is this the right way to do it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: If he had asked me how that ought to be conducted and I would have suggested a different way. But that's not my role. That's not my job. So it is what is it is.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Vladimir Putin is coming to the White House in the fall --
COATS: Say that again. Ok.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
COATS: That's going to be special.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That -- the entire conversation -- but that particularly caused a lot of problems inside the White House. You're part of reporting team yesterday in the "Washington Post" saying it was received very poorly inside the White House. One official saying Coats has gone rogue.
In a statement yesterday Dan Coats tried to clean this up. He said "Some press coverage has mischaracterized my intentions in responding to breaking news presented to me during a live interview. My admittedly awkward response was in no way meant to be disrespectful or criticize the actions of the President."
Is Dan Coats trying to save his job here? Is he in trouble?
ELIANA JOHNSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Yes. That was about as convincing as Trump's walk back on Tuesday saying he left out a word. But that was a truly astonishing moment not only because Coats wasn't informed but you have somebody who works for the President essentially mocking him on a national stage and for as much as people may object to the way Trump goes about things, I mean, he is still the President.
And if somebody disagrees -- if somebody who works for him disagrees with something that he does to the point that they want to criticize him publicly they should step down.
MANU RAJU, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And note that Dan Coats didn't actually walk back anything. He actually said --
KING: Not the substance.
RAJU: -- The substance of his remarks. And one of the things too that also is missed and it kind of goes to the point that some of the correspondents were making earlier that Coats in that interview made very clear that they tried to tune out all of the noise above them. And he said put the news on the shelf and work with their allies overseas because they believe -- trying to reassure the allies over all the concerns that they are hearing. Now, what the --
KING: The translation of that is -- the translation of that is we ignore what the President says in tweets.
RAJU: Exactly, we ignore what the President says --
KING: The great organizational chart.
RAJU: Exactly -- the United States still stands what it always stood for. And that is a really remarkable statement coming from someone so high up.
And you know, you look -- also what Senator McConnell said when he came to the mikes talking to reporters this last Tuesday, when he tried to reassure European allies that America is still with Europe, this after the President called the E.U. a foe.
So you're hearing top level officials close to the President trying to make that case that nothing has really changed even though the President has.
[08:34:58] JOSH DAWSEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, I was traveling with the President in Europe, and we did, you know, the NATO and then we went to London and then, you know, Helsinki. It was kind of remarkable. You had Mattis and others secretly telling allies or probably talking to allies that we're committed to NATO, we want NATO. But you have the President demanding now 4 percent of GDP spending instead of 2 percent throwing the meeting into an emergency session. Then declaring a victory somewhat and inexplicably leaving.
But he gets to London, he criticizes British Prime Minister Theresa May and says if she would have listened to me she would have handled Brexit better. Then the next day he goes, oh, it was fake news, I didn't criticize her.
Then you get to Helsinki, and you see that he does exactly what his team doesn't want him to do. They give him hundreds of pages of briefing material, let's be tough on --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, that was first mistake.
DAWSEY: Right. -- they say let's be tough on President Putin, he doesn't.
I mean what you often see is when you watch him, whatever the folks around him tell him to do or suggest that he does, he does the opposite. He's somewhat contrarian.
And a lot of these beliefs that he has on NATO, you know, it was not a good organization and the E.U., he doesn't like multilateral trade deals, his feelings about Theresa May. He's not going to change them.
So there's all of these briefings, there's all these efforts to get him to be, you know, somewhat in a box and when he goes overseas, when he goes on the world stage, he doesn't really follow what he's told to do at all.
KING: And as you point -- a lot of his aides telling the other allies, sometimes publicly sometimes privately -- don't worry, we'll take -- pay no attention of that, we'll take care of it. It's not a way to run a railroad, you say.
Up next for us -- Medicare for all? Free college and a government mandated pay raise? Is that speaking with moral clarity or a road map to Democratic defeat in the heartland?
[08:36:33] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KING: America votes in 107 days and this is the map Democrats are most confident about changing in the Trump midterm election. This is the House of Representatives after the 2016 midterm election. You see the blue on the coast but look at Middle America. A lot of red out there which is why there's a big debate in the Democratic Party. Can the resistance, Bernie Sanders-like supporters, can they sell their message out here? Is it too dangerous for Democrats to be talking about Medicare for all, free college tuition -- can you sell that in places that have consistently made the Republicans the majority in the House?
Well, the resistance took its road show to Kansas, of all places, near the end of this past week. Yes, one Democratic district here hopes of turning a second district blue. And to the Democrats who say dial it back, that the key to the big blue wave in 2018 is not scaring away Republicans unhappy with President Trump especially out here in red America -- well listen. Liberal icon Bernie Sanders and his new millennial partner say "no thanks".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: And they said what we did in the Bronx no one would care about it in Kansas. What this moment requires of us is for every day people to do more than they have ever done before to reclaim the soul of this nation.
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: We must have gotten off at the wrong stop because people told me that Kansas was a Republican state -- doesn't look like that today. We're all going to create a government which represents all of us, not just wealthy campaign contributors.
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KING: You hear the energy in the room, they say they feel it wherever they travel. But this is a huge source of tension and debate in the Democratic Party. Can you sell that in red America or is it a huge risk in a year where you think things are going your way to be going into red America and sounding so liberal?
LISA LERER, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, ASSOCIATE PRESS: Right, I mean look, this is a younger more -- I mean with the exception of Bernie Sanders, of course -- a younger more oppositional force in the Democratic Party coming up that's demanding not only generational change which frankly the party sorely needs but also sort of repudiating the centerism of the Clinton era and more like sort of consensus liberalism of the Obama era.
And in some ways regardless of what happens in the midterms, they've already won. When you look at the 7,000 people who are playing with potential runs for president in 2020 on the Democratic side, a lot of them have embraced a lot of the planks that Sanders campaigned on -- single payer health care, federal jobs guarantees.
So it does feel that that's the way the party is moving but the midterms will be a really big test of that.
RAJU: And it's a huge -- it's tension within the party right now. I mean if you talk to Republicans they believe the one chance they have of keeping the House is that a lot of these candidates are going to be campaigning on issues out of the mainstream. They believe they can win because of that.
Still, it's going to be very difficult for the Republicans to take the House. I mean, at the maps and the energy from the Democratic base but this is going to be the debate going into 2020. How much do you play -- work with the Trump administration, how far left do you go? Because if you don't, you will get -- there will be candidates who go further left. And they're the ones who are going to energize the base and the ones who are going to really drive the debate in the Democratic Party heading into 2020.
KING: And Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez understandably has become a spokeswoman for this -- millennial, a lot younger than Bernie Sanders.
Listen to her. This is her in a PBS interview a short time ago. This is the kind of thing Republicans say "huh".
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OCASIO-CORTEZ: Right now, we have this no holds barred, Wild West hyper capitalism. What that means is profit at any cost. Capitalism has not always existed in the world and it will not always exist in the world. When this country started we were not a capitalist -- we did not operate on a capitalist economy.
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KING: It is words like that, interviews like that that bring this Matt Drudge, "Socialists Rising" on the front of the "Drudge Report". Mitch McConnell writing an op-ed this past week saying, "Watch out voters, this is what the Democrats will bring you."
[08:45:04] I applaud candidates who actually say what they believe and so in one way give her credit. In another way though, can you sell -- in the Bronx you can sell that -- can you sell it in the heartland, which is why the Republicans have the majority?
JOHNSON: She's not like far enough into the political system to be like shading and politicking. She's much like Trump actually. But you know, in the same way that conservatism or the conservative movement is sort of dead and overtaken by populism, I think that Democrats are ripe for the same thing happening, maybe not in 2018 but in 2020.
That said, I don't think socialism is populism. And I don't think that these sort of socialist views are going to be saleable in the heartland.
DAWSEY: The political types that I talk to inside the White House welcome some of these kind of farther left arguments like the abolish ICE movement on the left -- I mean the folks in the White House are hoping that happens and people -- that picks up steam and they're cherishing that fight.
I mean, some of these you know, the further left ideas the White House -- I don't know if they can, we'll see in 2020, rightly hopes the party moves to the left and they think it's in their benefit. And the President even says that privately, you know, a lot mocking Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
Now they could also pick up steam and that could bite him but that's where the sentiment seems to be in summer 2018.
KING: Right. Their argument to that is none of you thought Trump was going to win. Maybe they think we can sell this. Well, that's why we have elections in 107 days. It's going to be fun to get there.
Our reporters share from their notebooks next, including why President Trump may already be losing his patience with Kim Jong-un.
[08:46:35] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KING: Let's take one last trip around the INSIDE POLITICS table and ask our great reporters to share a little something from their notebooks, help get you out ahead of the big political news just around the corner.
LERER: So I went down to Virginia's seventh district which Richmond -- the suburbs of Richmond out to Blue Ridge Mountains to see how some of the President's latest moves on Russia were playing with voters. And what I found was what you would expect -- Republicans are sticking with him. That's what we've seen from the polling.
But what's happening on the Democratic side was interesting. Obviously they are opposed to what the President has done but these constant walks-out and controversies are providing these weekly shots of adrenalin to the Democratic base. So what you see is protesters have become volunteers who are likely going to become voters.
And that's exactly what worries Republicans particularly in places like those Richmond suburbs where they have a Tea Party congressman up against a Democrat who was an undercover CIA officer.
They are a little bit nervous about that race and that's a race that -- if they are nervous about that race, it looks far worse for things that are much tighter battlegrounds.
KING: A couple of great ones in Virginia to keep an eye on.
RAJU: John -- President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, his views on executive power coming more into light; these after he submitted documents to the Senate Judiciary Committee. One, we have learned yesterday that about a couple of decades ago, he argued that the case involving the Nixon Watergate tapes was quote, "wrongly decided".
That was, of course, a unanimous decision ordering those tapes to be turned over. This comes after we reported last week about his concerns about an independent counsel investigating the conduct of a President that's of course, different than a special counsel.
He also raised concerns about any entity outside of Capitol Hill investigating the conduct of the President. Ultimately the question is going to be how does he view a Mueller investigation? That's a big question going forward.
And also a big question is, how many more documents is he going to submit to the Senate Judiciary Committee when he was at the George W. Bush White House. He touched millions of documents. The Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley told me he's only going to ask for quote, relevant documents. Democrats want all of those documents. So that's going to be another big fight going forward.
KING: Another big fight -- that's an understatement.
DAWSEY: When President Trump returned from his North Korea summit, he said everyone could sleep well at night and he basically declared peace on the Peninsula. That's obviously not been the case.
The North Koreans have been particularly absent in the negotiations. They've canceled meetings. They've demanded money. They've done basically what many experts expected the North Koreans would do.
We have a story in the paper today looking at how the President is frustrated at the stalled negotiations with a regime that he cannot make a deal with that he wants and who, you know, gave him these verbal promises but aren't really doing anything in return.
And I think it will be something to continue watching because you have foreign policy with Russia obviously. North Korea is a troubled hot spot for the President and he's made all of these grandiose claims about what's happened in North Korea but on the ground it seems little has happened so far.
KING: You can't tweet away a nuclear arsenal. That doesn't quite work that way.
JOHNSON: I'm looking ahead to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly's one-year anniversary on the job and assessments of his tenure and it coincides with a particularly turbulent week at the White House.
And I think we have to say that if John Kelly went in with any illusion that he could tame this president, he no longer has that illusion. But that being said, there are a few people who have been with this president the whole way including John Kelly.
So I think this president has found people who can work with him over the long term. John Kelly, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo -- so there are people who can work with this president but nobody who can change him.
KING: That's a great way to put it. We haven't seen a lot of change part.
I'll close with this. I want to close by wishing a happy birthday to an American hero I first met in snowy Iowa 30 years ago, eight presidential campaigns ago. Senator Bob Dole is 95 today. That is a remarkable achievement anyway, especially though for a son of Kansas wounded and left for dead on an Italian hillside back in 1945.
If you don't know his story, I suggest you study it. We can all learn a humbling lesson from 70 plus years of living in constant pain but always putting country and service first.
[08:55:00] It is a story that yes, includes asking the media where is the outrage about Bill Clinton but not once calling the media the enemy of the state. And a story that includes many, many sharp partisan battles but not one breath spent attacking the institutions that make America great.
Our president I'm told plans a happy birthday tweet to Senator Dole today. It would be a much better gift if he would take time to study how this great American went about his business.
That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Again, thanks for sharing your Sunday morning.
"STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper, up next. Don't go anywhere, Jake sits down with Carter Page and with Republican Senator Marco Rubio.
Have a great Sunday.
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[09:00:06] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Russia recoil.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What have you promised Vladimir Putin, sir?
TAPPER: After a week of walking back statements that upended the world.