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INSIDE POLITICS

Trump's Gov't Shutdown Threat Catches GOP By Surprise; Congress In A Time Crunch To Pass Funding Bills; ObamaCare A Key Concern As Manchin Meets Kavanaugh; 6 Dead, 7 Missing As Carr Fire Continues to Grow; Trump Attacks NYT After Revealing He Met With Publisher. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired July 30, 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] PHIL MATTINGLY: -- undercut the entire point and all of your reporting, it hurt a little bit, to be completely honest with you. But as you noted, the evergreen caveat of there could be a tweet.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: So smart.

MATTINGLY, I think the issue, Dana, is that this is kind of one of the under the radar success stories in the last of couple of couple of months, one that's in large part driven by the president. You remember when he signed grudgingly that $1.3 trillion omnibus in March. He made clear he was never going to do that again. And as such, that has been a driving force behind bipartisan negotiations, particularly in the Senate.

Senator Richard Shelby on the Republican side, Senator Pat Leahy on the Democratic side to actually reach agreement on spending bills, something that hasn't happened on the Hill for years. You know as well as anybody, careening from shutdown crisis to shutdown crisis, continuing resolution to continuing resolution. They are on pace by the end of this week, the Senate will have pass the seven appropriations bills. The House has already moved through committee all 12 of theirs.

The basic idea is get as many done as possible and then have a very small continuing resolution to deal with before the end of October and get it off the plate before the election. Here's the issue and I think this has always been the case. It's really twofold.

One, the president's insistence on wall funding. And two, I'm told OMB Director Mick Mulvaney also wants to cut spending, something that because there's a bipartisan deal isn't really on the table right now.

The latter will be dealt with on a later basis. The former, as I noted in that clip, was that they had a meeting, Speaker Paul Ryan and Leader Mitch McConnell with the president, where the president made clear to them, I'm told by multiple people, that he would wait for the wall fight until after the election.

That's basically the plan. The bottom line, Dana, is this. There will be a shutdown fight. Leaders just want it to be in December not in September. Now, as I noted, aides are saying they think he's just trying to blow off some steam, they think the fight will still happen in December. But the idea this is still kind of up in the air and still really at the mercy of 280 characters means that even though this is moving well right now, anything could happen.

BASH: I still think he was trolling you, but, you know, we'll see. We'll see. I guess trolling you is maybe less consequential than shutting the government down. So we'll see.

Thank you so much for that report, Phil. And Phil made a really important point about the under the radar success story on Capitol Hill with the Congress actually doing their job. And I pause at success because is it really success for them? And if you do your homework, are you told that you're successful? Are you told you're just doing your homework and that's your job?

The job of the Congress is to fund the government. They're supposed to pass 12 appropriations bills and send each of them separately to the president's desk every single fiscal year. But the norm has been they couldn't get their act together for various reasons, and they've been sending these giant spending bills. And therefore, we end up in this shutdown.

But, they have been working in a bipartisan way. And I think that they -- Congress never gets credit for things, understandably, and the times that they do things, they should get credit. Having said that, we are now at the beginning of a five-week recess for the House of Representatives. Senate is still there because they have some nominations that they're going to work on.

So check out this calendar that we're working with here because of the House all going home to campaign and work at home. You really only have 11 legislative days. They come back on the fourth, the end of the fiscal year is the 30th to get their full act together on this. So this is a real deadline, even though it seems very far away.

MICHAEL BENDER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: I think the deadline is real. I'm not so sure the shutdown is real. I mean, we know Trump is kind of capable of anything here. He wanted to blow up the budget earlier this year against basically the wishes of everyone in his administration. They talked him out of that.

So I think the threat is real, but I sort of think that the reality is closer to what Mitch McConnell is saying. This deal -- that this discussion just happened a couple days ago. Congress, as you point out, is gone for a while here. The president is wound up about a number of things. He likes to create a lot of news.

There's -- I think he even understands the political risks that this would cause. And our latest reporting at the Wall Street Journal put a Phil Mattingly caveat in there, it's only the latest reporting, I haven't talked to anyone --

BASH: Put your phone down, Mr. President.

BENDER: Yes. But our reporting at the Wall Street Journal is that Trump and McConnell have become quite close since the tax legislation. That the relationship was frayed after the healthcare bill. It's become tighter after the tax legislation to the point where Trump actually checked in with McConnell during the West Virginia primary to see how he could help before he tweeted, which is kind of astonishing for the era we're in now.

So given all those facts, I think -- I mean, we at the Wall Street Journal we sort of spit -- we're spit balling some questions ahead of Trump's news conference this afternoon. And a threat of the shutdown, I was arguing it should be pushed down the list. I mean, it's the third topic we're talking about here today for a reason.

[12:35:00] I mean, it just doesn't seem like -- it seems like even this president understands what he's doing here.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: It could also blow up his Supreme Court nomination fight that supposed to -- the Republicans want that to be the fight in September. A prolonged shutdown could undercut any effort they have to keep the House, the Senate could suddenly become in place. Especially it really looks like Trump is the one who is -- the one who's responsible for this.

So I'm very skeptical. If Trump wants to dig in, he's probably going to get ruled by Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. He'll have to accept that this is a short-term increase and that fight will be (INAUDIBLE).

BASH: Exactly. And when we say blowing off steam, for him that's don't forget about my border wall, fund my border wall.

LISA LERER, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: And he does think the border wall and immigration are good politics for him going to midterms. He said that he -- the president wants the midterms to be fought over immigration. Then his assessment that many Republicans on the campaign trail and in Congress do not agree with. So there's a little bit of a political dispute over how much immigration should play in the midterms, but it does feel like a shutdown is certainly not inevitable.

BASH: OK. I agree with all of you, but that doesn't mean that we can't put up a fun fact before we go to break. And that is about the shutdown. The last time there was a shutdown, it was in 2013 over healthcare. And you know what happened in that midterm election if we can put this up on the screen?

Afterwards in 2014, there actually was a net gain on the GOP side of nine seats in the Senate and 13 in the House. To be fair, there was a Democrat in the White House. But it was Republicans who led the shutdown.

OK. Up next --

BENDER: You sound like Steve Bannon there, Dana.

BASH: No comment.

Up next, 85 years young, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg reveals her tire -- retirement plans or lack thereof.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:41:12] BASH: Topping our political radar today, Georgia Congressman John Lewis has been released from the hospital with a clean bill of health. The 68-year-old civil rights icon became ill on a flight Saturday night to Atlanta. The long-time congressman was severely beaten as a young man while leading a march for voting rights in Salma, Alabama, in 1965, and he was awarded the presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.

One of the Republicans hoping to be the next governor of Florida is showing his love for President Trump and his sense of humor in a new ad released today. Congressman Ron DeSantis faces a run off with Adam Putnam in the Republican primary in Florida next month.

Now the ad, DeSantis and his family remind voters that he has the president's support and that the feeling is mutual.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CASEY DESANTIS: He reads stories.

REP. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: Then Mr. Trump said, you're fired. I love that part.

C. DESANTIS: People say Ron's all Trump, but he is so much more.

R. DESANTIS: Big league, so good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: And talk about the retirement of another Supreme Court justice is just that, talk. At least if it's Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She says she's in no rush to hang up her robe. In fact, she says she hopes to stay on the bench for another five years at least. She's 85 and she's remarkably fit.

We can't get enough of this video of her planking. It's from CNN films documentary about her life.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've heard that she does 20 push-ups three times a week or something. I mean, we can't even get off the floor. We can't even get down to the floor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's true.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: And after sitting on the fence, Senator Rand Paul says he'll support the man hoping to fill Justice Anthony Kennedy's seat of the Supreme Court. The Kentucky Republican tweeted, "After meeting Judge Kavanaugh and reviewing his record, I've decided to support his nomination." No one will ever completely agree with the nominee unless, of course, you are the nominee. Each nominee, however, must be judged on the totality of their views, character, and opinions.

Meanwhile, an undecided red state Democrat meets Brett Kavanaugh today. Senator Joe Manchin says he's hearing from hundreds of West Virginians concern about the nomination. And Manchin says he'll examine Kavanaugh's record on healthcare as a new round of ads target the senator.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Manchin isn't being straight with West Virginians, saying his vote on Kavanaugh is about healthcare, a dishonest talking point he got from liberal Chuck Schumer. Tell Joe Manchin you won't be fooled by his tricks and you won't forget how he votes on Kavanaugh.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: We're back around the table. Manu, this is the first Democrat to meet with Kavanaugh so far. And he's in a real pickle.

RAJU: He is because --

BASH: He, Manchin?

RAJU: He is. And if he -- because if he votes for Kavanaugh, he's going to infuriate the Democratic base. I know it's a conservative state, but he does need to get those liberal voters out to the polls and look at the primary that he just went through in West Virginia. He did not get a lot of support from those same core Democratic voters. So he's in a bind because he's getting hit from the right and left. And this is going to be a very difficult vote.

BASH: And the way he's setting it up is talking pretty extensively about Kavanaugh's writings and views on ObamaCare which is, you know, somebody said it was risky. I think it's actually kind of clever because that is an issue that is universally a big one among people who voted for Trump and Manchin and even those who didn't.

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Right. I mean, that is an issue that does activate those core Democrats that he needs to have on his side, but he also he spins -- he's clear of talking about abortion rights, gay rights, all of the social sort of cultural hot-button issues that could alienate the Republicans and swing voters that he would need to win that race.

[12:45:00] And so that's clearly where he's going to have his focus in order to potentially limit his liability if he does decide to vote for Kavanaugh.

BASH: A lot of pressure on him and the other red state Democrats. Never mind those two moderate Republican women.

OK. Up next, we're going to go to California and have some information and updates on those raging wildfires burning across parts of northern California and one family's heartbreaking story. That's ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EF BLEDSOE, WIFE AND GREAT GRANDCHILDREN DIED IN FIRE: I talked to Junior on the phone until he died. He just kept saying, Grandpa, (INAUDIBLE). It's a coming. A fire is coming in the back door. Come on, grandpa.

I said, I'm right down the road. He said, come and get us. Emily said, I love you, Grandpa. And Junior says, I love you. Come and get us. Come and get us. I said, I'm on my way.

[12:50:04] My wife was the greatest woman in the world and my grandkids were excellent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: A heartbreaking story from 76-year-old man, rather, that you just heard describing a final phone call with his loved ones. He lost his wife and two grandchildren in that massive wild fire burning through parts of Northern California. At least six people have died. Several more are missing.

I want to get straight to CNN's Dan Simon who is joining me live now from Redding. Dan, I can't even imagine having to conduct that interview. It sounded like he just understandably wanted to talk.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is one of the most difficult interviews I have ever conducted, Dana. This is a man who is broken after losing the most important people in his life. Ed Bledsoe and his wife Melody, they were taking care of their great grandchildren. They had raised them since birth. We're talking about James who they call Junior and Emily.

And on Thursday night 7 p.m., Ed decides he's going to leave the house really to run a quicker errand. Then about 15 minutes later he gets a frantic phone call that the flames were quickly approaching his house. I'll let Ed pick up the story from here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLEDSOE: I raised them and took care of them, taught them everything they know, me and grandma. I left and went to town. My wife called me and she said, we can see the fire way over there, and said you need to come and get me. I said, I'm on my way. So I just throw down everything and took off over there.

I got up on the Quartz Hill and then there was two or three or four lanes of traffic come out wouldn't let me down in there.

We've been there for days in the same situation but we didn't know the fire was coming down in there. They told us the fire was going south. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SIMON: Well, as you can imagine, he is feeling a tremendous amount of guilt over what happened. But, Dana, he also points out that nobody ever told him that he should evacuate. And that just goes to show you how fast this quickly -- how fast this fire spread.

Let me explain where we are, Dana. This is Redding, you can see this neighborhood behind me. This is Lake Redding Estates. Much of the neighborhood looks just like this.

And we're talking about 700 homes, more than 700 homes that have burned to the ground. But fire crews are now beginning to make some progress. This fire is now 20 percent contained.

Now that doesn't sound like a lot but just 24 hours ago it was five percent contained. And we now understand that the fire is burning away from populated areas. Dana?

BASH: I mean, there just aren't any words. And as we see at the bottom of our screen, there are still seven missing as this is continuing to burn.

Dan Simon, thank you so much for that report and we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:57:26] BASH: President Trump just started a whole new round of attacks in his war with the media calling them -- calling us I should say, unpatriotic and irresponsible. In his new tweet storm coming after he revealed that he met with New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger saying, they had a good meeting -- excuse me, an interesting discussion about fake news and how the term morphed into the phrase "enemy of the people." Sulzberger released a statement saying, he warned the president his language is not just divisive, it could lead to violence against journalist.

The president responded with a series of tweets saying, he, quote, won't allow our great country to be sold out by the anti-Trump haters in the dying newspaper industry.

Back around the table, Julie, you're the representative here from the New York Times. I have to say that your publisher is one of my heroes because it isn't the fake news.

I mean, OK, that's bad. But the -- I mean, that's really bad. But the enemy of the people is dangerous.

DAVIS: Well, absolutely. And I mean, this was -- let's not forget, it was supposed to be an off-the-record meeting that the president chose to divulge and sort of gives the lie to what he often talks about, you know, made up sources, made up conversations that never happened. This is an example of one of these things that, you know, was supposed to be a discussion between the publisher and the president and he chose to disclose it. Be that as they may, they did talk about fake news. They talked about -- the president said that, you know, actually, some foreign countries have banned fake news and A.G. Sulzberger, our publisher pointed out that actually those are autocratic countries where they're actually trying to (INAUDIBLE).

And he mentioned -- and I think he came to the meeting intending to raise the point that through this rhetoric of enemy of the people, this has given rise to a new wave of threat against journalists. And then actually he told the president, you know, a lot of us has had to hire armed security 24/7 if we didn't already have it.

The president actually surprised that more journalism organizations didn't have that to begin with. But this was -- you know, I think that this was an opportunity for the president maybe to air some of his grievances. A.G. Sulzberger used it as an occasion to share with the president what the impact has been on the journalism industry, on journalists individually, and what it could be on the country, more broadly.

RAJU: And he didn't obviously learn anything from it. The president -- because this weekend he tweeted criticizing reporters for covering the inner workings of government. Well, that's what reporters are supposed to do.

BASH: Yes. I mean, that is what reporters are supposed to do in any society, but particularly when you're not in an autocratic society to your point, where you are -- you know, you have the shoe on your head saying you can't report on anything.

Thank you to the New York Times for doing that. Thank you for watching and joining us in the INSIDE POLITICS. Wolf starts right now.