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President Urged To Stop Tweeting About Trump Tower Meeting; Trump, Pelosi Featured In Ohio Campaign Ad Wars; El-Sayed Tries To Push Progressive Wave In Michigan. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired August 7, 2018 - 12:30   ET


[12:30:01] ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: It sends a signal to people that, why are you protesting? You're right on the facts, the facts will unfold in a way that's favorable to you, and you'll be better served not talking about it.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Anthony Scaramucci there. The advice coming as the President's legal team prepares a response to the Special Counsel's latest proposal about an interview with the President. It's Robert Mueller's birthday today. Yes, it is. It sounds like he's not getting a gift from the White House.

The President's attorney Rudy Giuliani telling "The Washington Post" we have a real reluctance about allowing any questions about obstruction. The President still hasn't made a decision, and we're not going to make a final decision just yet.

That sounds a lot like Groundhog Day. We haven't made a final decision. We don't want you interviewing the President about obstruction.

Let's start with that because I get the sense here, that's a no. If you keep over a period of months now sending that Robert Mueller the same answer, that's a no, isn't it? Isn't that a, we dare you to subpoena us if you won't back down?

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: Unless you're representing President Trump, who's said many, many times that he wants to do the interview.

I think he's the wild card, as always, in this entire process. I mean, how many times that you've been told to stop tweeting about the travel ban, about this, about some other things. I've probably forgotten long ago? He never listens. It'll stop for a time and then, something will set him off. And it's just him and his phone and that's what happens.

So, I think, in theory, that's a dare or in theory that's a no. But again, it depends on what the President says.

KING: And to your point about the substance of the tweet, the President tweeting now in his clear language that Donald Trump Jr. and these others took this meeting with known Russians expecting dirt on Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump Jr. himself, yesterday saying that's what happened. In his view, no big deal. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: It was a 20-minute meeting. It ended up in, you know, about essentially nothing that was relevant to any of these things and that's all it is. And that's all they've got.

That's not the premise that got them in the room and then they started -- it was essentially a bait and switch to talk about that and everyone has basically said that in testimony already. I mean, so this is, this nothing new.


KING: It's nothing new, except it's the son of the President on the record after the President of the United States in a tweet said Donald Trump Jr. took the meeting expecting dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russians.

If they gave him that dirt, he says it didn't happen, but that means he knew going in that's what he wanted. That's illegal.

It is illegal to accept campaign cash or campaign gifts, which that information would be, from a foreign national. So, is he not saying right there, oh yes, I went into this meeting expecting that maybe he didn't know it was breaking the law, but that's for the lawyers to argue.

MICHAEL BENDER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Yes. They've changed their story a couple times on this. It keeps getting sort of clearer and clearer what this meeting was and what this meeting was about.

And to his point about questioning or saying this is all Mueller has. I don't know that he knows that, I mean, recently don't know that. I'm not sure he knows that.

And I think there are still several questions that we haven't had answers to about this meeting. So, there are certainly more questions. We'll see what Mueller has.

And I will say just to your other point before, you're right. Trump does not -- Trump is inclined to have this interview. The attorneys are pushing him back. But at some point, no answer is an answer and Mueller is going to have to make his decision here.

KING: And I want you to just listen to one more part of Laura Ingraham interview. The President's supporters always accuse those of us who ask questions on some sort of Trump derangement syndrome. There's also what you might Trump apologize syndrome. Listen to Laura Ingraham here. She's trying to ask a question. Trying to ask a very relevant question of the President's son, and --


LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Do you want any comments on that Donny? Because they're hitting you on that for contradictions. I mean, they're calling it worse than contradictions, obviously.

TRUMP JR.: Hello?

INGRAHAM: Yes. Donny, what is your reaction to all that? We're going to see if we can reconnect with Donald Trump Jr. on this because we can't seem to hear him. Donny, you hear that? We don't know where he went.

TRUMP JR.: Somehow you got cut off -- they started playing the recording and then, it got cut off.

INGRAHAM: Oh, sorry about that.


KING: It got off. I guess, maybe he wasn't expecting a real question.

BENDER: Maybe he was taking Mooch's advice there.

CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Maybe (INAUDIBLE) there's still a lot of questions that need to be answered and we're not getting answers in that interview.

KING: But he says there, that was the premise that got them in the room, meaning they were going to give me dirt on Hillary Clinton. They are Russian nationals. You can't accept that from a foreign national.

Now, if he didn't, he can say the crime didn't happen. But he also, he's on the record. They're saying he went into the room anticipating a crime to happen.

TARINI PARTI, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, BUZZFEED NEWS: I mean, it seems that as this is going on, Trump Jr. clearly knows that this is getting bad. And we know from reporting that the President is getting worried about his son.

But again, he continues to dig this hole for his son and I'm not sure how many times Laura Ingraham has had technical difficulties on this show. But this, I mean, seems to be a way to sort of evade answering the questions.

[12:35:00] They probably thought they were getting a friendly interview. And when the real questions started, we lost Donny on the phone.

KING: I would like to see in the end all the transcripts of how many people who are interviewed by the Special Counsel say, I didn't know, I didn't know, I didn't know. I didn't know any better, I didn't know, I didn't know.

Before we go to break, another key player in the Russia probe, the deputy attorney general who likes to show his sense of humor having a little fun today channeling Tim McGraw during his speech at the Justice Department. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: And in the words of a country music song, always stay humble and kind. Those are important attributes of prosecutors.



[12:40:09] KING: Welcome back. Exhausted firefighters in Northern California now dealing with the largest wildfire in state history. The so-called Mendocino Complex Fire North of San Francisco has now burned more acreage than the entire city of Los Angeles, making it bigger than last year's Thomas fire that scorched much of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

President Trump says the crisis is being exacerbated by bad environmental laws, which he says are hampering access to water. Experts we spoke with saying what the President tweeted just not true.

Michael Cohen, the President's long-time lawyer, facing new legal trouble. "The Wall Street Journal" reporting Cohen is under investigation for tax fraud. Prosecutors looking into whether Cohen underreported on his tax returns. Investigators are also looking into whether Cohen got loans without proper documentation.

Iran now enduring its first day under new U.S. sanctions, "The most biting penalties ever", according to President Trump, who also says anyone doing business there won't be doing any business with the United States.

As a result of that from the President, the maker of Mercedes-Benz, Daimler says its suspending activities in Iran until further notice.

Iran's auto industry is just one sector affected by the sanctions, which could be expanded again in November.

The outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan says she's very comfortable with the decisions he's made and that he'd make them again the same way. That's just one comment that appears in a new "New York Times" profile which also quotes the outgoing speaker as saying the President tweets so much because he, "Just wants to see your heads explode, referring to the news media.

Speaker Ryan also mentions how Trump used to call him a boy scout and how he eventually realized it was an insult. It's something he's shown a sense of humor about though. Just listen.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: At one point, the President actually insulted me. I know that sounds kind of surprising. He described me as a boy scout who's boring to talk to. It didn't hurt my feelings. What hurt my feelings was when my wife agreed with him.


KING: It is interesting to watch the final weeks or months of the Paul Ryan speakership in the sense that was Mitt Romney's vice presidential nominee. A lot of people thought he would run for President last time around.

He came to Washington as Jack camp, compassionate and conservative who said he was going to balance the budget and put the fiscal house in order. What's he going to go away with on his list of things I will do in Washington?

KUCINICH: He kind of in like a lion and out like a lamb, didn't he really? Because he really -- I've covered Paul Ryan for years and there were big dreams for him. And his speakership even, how he came into the speakership.

John Boehner was wounded. He was going to bring everyone together and Trump was a real wild card. You have to imagine and I think a lot of fortunes would be different had the Republican Party had another Republican at the top of that ticket. But I think Paul Ryan's career trajectory would have been completely different had he had a President that was a little more, a little more amenable to the traditional establishment track.

LUCEY: But I would say, I mean, the one key thing he goes back with is the thing that I think and keeps a lot of establishment Republicans sort of in line with Trump is tax cuts.

KING: Yes.

LECEY: Yes. I mean, that was a huge goal for Paul Ryan. They did get that done. And so, he goes home with that but he also is leaving and the article talks about it. It's an interesting time to an age to be leaving this role as. He's exiting quietly.

KING: Guys in their 40s leaving when they're at their height of power happens all the time, right?

LECEY: Sure.

[12:43:28] KING: Coming up for us here. A look back at that big Ohio race playing out today and the campaign ad wars.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dishonest Danny O'Connor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Troy Balderson, he'd be more of the same in Washington.



KING: Welcome back. Today's special congressional election out in Ohio will give us a fascinating read on the midterm tea leaves. Voters in the district, though, likely be glad when it's over. Glad because of all the attack ads they have been bombarded with will finally stop, late this afternoon.

Here are the two that have been on air the most.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: O'Connor supports amnesty for illegals, and O'Connor opposes the border wall. Danny O'Connor would join the resistance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Troy Balderson supports a corporate tax giveaway that racks up 2 trillion in debt, forcing massive tax hikes on our kids.


KING: Over $7 million spent on TV ads for this one congressional race. The Democrat side, more than 80 percent of the money came from Danny O'Connor's campaign. Just the opposite on the Republican side. Outside groups spent close to 90 percent of the money on the ads supporting Troy Balderson.

All of that outside money from Republicans tells you that they're scared. They should not have to spend a nickel in this district, but they're spending a ton. Also interesting for me that the attacks on paying (ph) immigration, unemployment is low, the republican tax cut they say is a success, but they're trying to drive out base turnout by putting immigration front and center.

KUCINICH: Because it wasn't working. If you look at the early ads, it was about the economy. And apparently it wasn't resonating with people. They're also message testing. Let's be real here. They're looking at the rest of the map and they're seeing if this immigration play will work against these candidates because they just kind of assigning. They're using him as sort of candidate tofu and seeing -- if you put him in that -- I don't know where to go with that metaphor.

KING: I like it. Another issue, we know the President is an issue, especially in the close suburbs, where particularly suburban women say we don't like this President. The Republicans have tried to make Nancy Pelosi an issue, saying if the Democrats keep winning, the Democrats will control the House and you'll get Nancy Pelosi.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: O'Connor admits that after months of trying to hide it, he'd support Pelosi for speaker, and with liberal Nancy Pelosi a speaker, America will have open borders for gangs and drugs, socialize medicine and higher taxes.

TROY BALDERSON, REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR SPECIAL ELECTION IN OHIO'S 12TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: I will work with congressional Republicans. I'll work with President Trump. I'll work with congressional Democrats. The folks will sit down and be serious and commit to rebuilding this country. (END VIDEO CLIP)

[12:50:02] KING: To your point about message testing, it will be interesting. Again, penalty Republican district, if you can't make Nancy Pelosi the Boogieman, if want a Boogie woman wrap around -- will we keep seeing that through November? Do the Republicans have anything else?

PARTI: We've seen this over and over again. Republicans have been pretty successful with this Nancy Pelosi messaging. We've seen this for years at this point. And Republican voters know well when they see this ad. They know to associate a Democrat candidate immediately with Nancy Pelosi and sort of the liberal views

In a district like this, it could work. But I think what we were talking about earlier with highlighting the employment gains, things like that, talking about the economy, we're just not seeing that positive messaging at all because voters are extremely polarized at this point. The middle section keeps getting smaller and smaller. So a positive message like that might not work as well.

BENDER: They don't want scare people to the polls.

PARTI: Exactly.

KING: They don't want scare people to the polls, sometimes gross (ph).

LUCEY: Kind of like other Democrats running the cycle trying to put some distance for him to offer (ph) Pelosi.

KING: Right.

LUCEY: A number of candidates are saying we're not going to get into who will support, this isn't what this is about. He's really talking about working across the aisle. That's clearly the pushback.

KING: Distance from Washington still helps. It helped President Trump. It still helps on both sides in this race.

When we come back, Ohio is not the only election today. A controversial Trump endorsement in one state and a Democrat trying to make history in another.


[12:55:57] KING: Today's special election in Ohio will no doubt test the midterm mood for Republicans. Other states to keep an eye on tonight include Kansas, Missouri, Michigan. Also a critical day for Democrats. Back to Michigan, for example. That's where Abdul El- Sayed trying (ph) to become the nation's first Muslim governor.

He's branded himself as the Medicare for all candidate and he's earned some big-name support from liberals like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Who storm down to the political states of course after upsetting long time Democratic Congressman Joe Crowley in New York. But will their support be enough to help El-Sayed? Reach out (ph) the Democratic front runner who's capturing support from a establishment Democratic. It is why we talk about a lot of these Republican primaries because the President's in charge of his party right now. It's more front and center. But these Democratic races, including Michigan governor, Democrats think they have a chance to make progress in these race. This is a fascinating primary.

KUCINICH: Absolutely. We talked about message testing. This is a big one. You have a lot of Democrats looking at this, looking forward 2020, whether these statewide messages are going to work. This is obviously a lot bigger than a congressional district in Queens.

KINGS: And can you sell took that point? Can you sell the Bernie Sanders message, the Ocasio-Cortez message in the heartland where Trump won Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin? Abdul El-Sayed says yes. He says yes, the Democrat had just failed to be honest.


ABDUL EL-SAYED (D), MICHIGAN GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: Unfortunately over the past 10 and 20 years. I think the Democratic Party has gotten complacent about how we win elections and more importantly about who we serve.

We cannot continue to take money from the same corporations if we say that we're the party that works for the poor and working of our country. And we cannot continue to apologize for our message.


LUCEY: Certainly Bernie Sanders won the primary in Michigan, so we know there's support and interest in this kind of message. Although, I think this speaks, again, to the divide within the Democratic Party that we're seeing a candidate like Michigan.

We're seeing Danny O'Connor in Ohio, and how do they work out what works for 2020. And it's not really clear right now where that debate is going to land.

KING: We're in the laboratory of that. In the wake of this, the President of the United States, a republican, endorsed the Kansas secretary of state, a Republican, against a sitting Republican governor in a Republican Party. The Kansas Republican Party have epileptic (ph) because they think Kris Kobach is the weaker candidate. Why?

BENDER: If you're a Democrat -- that's kind of first priority tonight. You're watching Michigan to see what statement the base is going to send tonight in places like Michigan. But in the not too distant future, you're going to have to keep your eyes on this Kansas race too. Because if Trump is successful and here and gets this candidate in, the party sees a real opportunity to take the governorship in Kansas because Kobach is such a controversial figure.

And for Trump to jump in here at the 11th hour, he's sort of damned if he does, damned if he doesn't, no matter what the outcome is. If Kobach loses, Trump spends some political capital and if he has he put his party in potentially worse position.

PARTI: He's obviously at odds with the Republican Party. And there were a lot of people who were surprised by that tweet yesterday. But I think frankly, I'm surprised it took the President this long to put out that tweet because he's been such a big supporter of Kobach. And he just likes to reward loyalty. So this is sort of a clear sign of that. He also likes making endorsements.

He likes things he can do unilaterally. Endorsements is one of those powers he can flex.

LUCEY: He likes proving his power with the Republican base. What Republicans will tell you, mostly privately to do create criticize the President is that, they don't think he understands his role as the leader of the party. But sometimes this candidate is more competitive. But he may not be the most Trumpian candidate but his more competitive candidate.

So, bite your lip Mr. President. But he didn't like that part.

BENDER: He has done a little bit of a better job, to give him a little bit credit here. He has little bit of a better job with that recently. I mentioned we're kind of watching his performance in his rallies since last couple of weeks.

We saw him kind of given kind of lukewarm endorsement to candidates in the past. In the last few weeks, he's been very on message and trying to get support for the candidates that he is backing.

[12:59:48] KING: So watch we'll count the votes tonight. (INAUDIBLE) hope you come back to see us tomorrow. That's it for today on "INSIDE POLITICS." again, see you this time tomorrow. Wolf starts right now. Have a good day.