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GOP Using Anti-Pelosi Messaging For 2018 Midterms; Mueller Subpoenas Randy Credico To Testify Before Grand Jury; Michael Avenatti Says He's Considering Running For President; Kanye West, Spike Lee Open Up about Trump. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired August 10, 2018 - 12:30   ET


[12:30:01] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: That tells me that it may not be working as well as Republicans say, but it has to be working if more and more Democrats are saying, no, won't do it, right?

LISA LERER, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: So, I think there's two interesting parts of this argument. I'll put on each side. So, obviously as many our viewers know, running against Pelosi was a big issue in this recent special election in Ohio.

And one of our Republicans down there told me was that the Republicans saw it as a particularly good motivator for some in there, some Republicans who maybe were a little shaky on the President.

That, well, you feel shaky on the President, but you really don't want House Speaker Pelosi. So, this is why you got to turn out and this is why you have to vote Republican.

On the Democratic side, I think it's a good argument for Democrats because not only does it inoculate them against these Republican attacks, but it also gets at this other piece that many in their base would like to see, which is generational change --

KING: Right.

LERER: -- that they have this fairly elderly leadership in the House and there's certainly a large portion of the party, a notable portion of the party that would like to see some younger blood.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good. And Pelosi has a real challenge here in becoming speaker again, particularly if the Democratic majority, if they do take the House is narrow. I mean, there are a lot of Democrats were on record and saying they won't support her.

And maybe this is just politics. And seeing it on the campaign trail and they'll vote differently, when they become leader in this secret ballot elections during the leadership election.

But on the floor, those are not secret votes. And she can only lose so many and it was a narrow vote. She may not become speaker. And that's why a lot of Democrats say privately and some publicly why are you even giving the Republicans an issue because you becoming speaker again will be very hard. KING: And that's what's going to -- she's going to face a tough choice. And people think she -- a lot of people thought she got to face that choice after the election. But some people think she might face it before the election.

If we move closer, past Labor Day, and it's like, yes, the Democrats will probably retake the House but it's still a question. No, she's not going to take advice from Bill Kristol, the conservative from The Weekly Standard.

But he does post this today. Pelosi would do her party a favor by announcing that though she looks forward to being part of a Democratic majority, she thinks its time for new leader that she won't stand for speaker. And that she's urging her fellow 75 and over colleagues in the leadership not do so as well.

Could there come a point before the election where she has to deal with this question? Or is she convinced she can at least ride out the election? And look, for the all the critics of Nancy Pelosi.

She's the most organized person in the Democratic Party. She's the best fundraiser, particularly for House Democrats. And she gets this. I mean, she can count.

MATT VISER, DEPUTY WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE BOSTON GLOBE: I don't think there's any hint of her to backing down. She sat down with "The Boston Globe" editorial board in May. And she said, I don't want five men sitting at that table. In referring to all the men in Congressional and White House leadership and I am not -- I'm going to be at that table.

And so, she is very committed, I think, to running again for House Speaker, even though it probably would benefit her Party if she tried to kind of pass the baton.

KING: But would she run if her math told her she might lose?

RAJU: I think she probably would. I mean, I think that she believes that she can win. She believes that she can -- the Democratic enthusiasm will be so intense if they do win and at that end all these naysayer's will come to her side.

KING: We'll see what happens here. And continue to watch this dynamic and sort of for midterms are always about the President. Republican sort of makes him about Nancy Pelosi. We'll watch this play out.

We got to take a pause for some breaking news. Special Counsel Robert Mueller issuing yet another subpoena in the Russia investigation. This one also involving Trump confidant Roger Stone. Our justice correspondent Jessica Schneider joins us lived from Washington. Jessica, spell this out.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John. A lot seems to be swirling around Roger Stone. Of course, we're seeing the Manhattan Madam at the grand jury today. And now word just out that the special counsel's team has, in fact, subpoenaed Randy Credico. Now, Randy Credico is a comedian, a radio show host, and a friend of Roger Stone. It was Randy Credico who Roger Stone said was his back channel to Wikileaks. And Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

So, we know that Credico had initially refused to voluntary interview with the special counsel's team but now we know Randy Credico has in fact agreed to a voluntary interview.

He'll also -- this grand jury subpoena is for September 7th. So, not too far away, less than a month away and it really, John, shows that this investigation continues to go on. It continues to move forward and it looks like Roger Stone is a big part of this investigation.

Roger stone himself has not been in contact with the special counsel's office. We know, but all of these people in his orbit are now part of this special counsel probe.

Again, the Manhattan Madam is before the grand jury today. We know that Andrew Miller, who is also a confidant of Roger Stone, he was also subpoenaed. He has not appeared. He will be held in contempt. And now this latest subpoena for Randy Credico.

[12:35:02] One last thing, John. Rudy Giuliani had talked about this investigation wrapping up by September 1st. Well, we can see that just by the mere fact that this subpoena for Randy Credico is for September 7th, that looks very unlikely, and it won't happen. John?

KING: A very important point at the end there. Jessica Schneider, thank you.

September 7th happens to be 60 days before the midterm elections. There's a signal. Robert Mueller doesn't talk in public, but just what he puts on the court calendar that tells you a little bit of something about whether he's going to keep going or hit the pause button. We'll keep track of that as well.

Before we go to break, marking a milestone. Twenty-five years ago today, Ruth Bader Ginsburg sworn in as the second female Supreme Court justice.


RUTH BADER GINSBURG, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT: In my lifetime, I expect there will be as many sisters as brothers in law. That prospect is indeed cause for hope, and its realization will be cause for celebration.



[12:40:37] KING: Topping our political radar today. The football is back and the President says kneeling NFL players should, "Find another way to protest or be suspended without pay". Today's tweet comes after several players kneeled, raised fists, or stayed in the locker rooms during the national anthem at last night's preseason games. The NFL says it is still trying to work out a compromise with players. And while those talks are ongoing, it will not enforce a previous announced policy that did include fines and other potential penalties.

President Trump is tweeting he's authorized a doubling of tariffs on steel and aluminum from Turkey. The White House says this is a national security issue, but sources telling CNN it's also because of the failed discussions to bring home an American pastor detained in Turkey.

Meanwhile, the Turkish lira tanked 13 percent against the dollar today that because of those tensions with the United States and the unwillingness of Turkish authorities to raise interest rates.

A tiny, tiny difference in the vote count. Take a look, but a giant controversy in the Republican primary for Kansas Governor. Here's the tally. Secretary of State Kris Kobach has a 116-vote lead over the incumbent Governor Jeff Colyer.

It's the Secretary of State of course who's responsible for certifying the vote count. It took a few days but Kobach now says he will recuse himself given that he's one of the candidates. He did so after of the discrepancies were discovered in the results reported by the counties and the number posted on the secretary of state website. Take a listen.


KRIS KOBACH (R), KANSAS SECRETARY OF STATE: I guess, I'll be happy to recuse myself. But as I say, it really doesn't make any difference. My office doesn't count the votes. The counties do. It's purely symbolic because I don't have any involvement in the recount, but I said of course, if he wants me to, I would. And he said, OK, I do want you to. So I will.


KING: Up next, the potential Democratic 2020 field just got a little more crowded.


[12:46:36] KING: An interesting, some might use a different word, but let's call it an interesting new addition today to the long list of 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls using 2018 as a test track of sorts.

Michael Avenatti is in Iowa. You know him from the TV. He's attorney for adult film actress Stormy Daniels. He calls President Trump a liar. He calls his long time fixer Michael Cohen an idiot.

Yesterday, you see him right there at the Iowa State fair. That's a traditional walking tour, face time with potential voters. Tonight Avenatti has the stage. He's the lead speaker at a Democratic fundraising event.

He'll test his theory that voters will be looking outside the box as they pick someone to challenge the current outside the box incumbent.


MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: I'm here to listen to the great people of Iowa, explore the fair, and figure out if makes sense to run for presidency or not.

I do think I could beat the President in a general election. And I think there's a number reason for that. I think that it's going to be a brutal campaign. I think it's going to require a fighter. I think it's going to require somebody that's scrappy. And I think it's going to require someone to engage in a significant cage match for the future of this country.


KING: Cage match but I yield the floor. What do we make of this?

LERER: I'm really, really tired thinking about the Democratic field for 2020 already. I think this is --

KING: Which one of the 25 or 26?

LERER: Twenty-five. I think when you start counting the ones who will flirt with the bid to raise their profile, which may be what Mr. Avenatti is doing here. I mean, 25, I think might be a lowball number. So, we all should get -- you're going to need a lot of graphs and charts, moving maps to keep track of them all. John.

KING: So, your first instinct is to laugh, right? Forgive me, Mr. Avenatti. But your first instinct is to laugh. A guy with no political experience. A guy who's been on TV, going after the President, the Stormy Daniels case.

But then, wait a minute, Donald Trump had no experience, a lot of people laughed, said reality TV star, this is just to raise his profile. This is about his ego. Not about serious. I believe his the President of the United States.

RAJU: The one thing that Democratic base is going to be looking for is someone who's going to go after the President, toe to toe. Fight him tooth and nail. And that's going to be a real interesting way to see how the Democratic field shapes up because there will be some who naturally because of their personalities will not necessarily want to go as far as a lot of folks on the left want to go, which would be to impeach and then convict the President.

And there -- so others well, may be more moderate in their approach to the President. Michael Avenatti clearly is not. So, maybe he does appeal to that segment of the base.

KING: To that point, some kind -- we'll see if he's successful or not. We'll see if he actually runs or not. But sometimes people who get in a race or at least or around in the pre game of a race do influence other candidates even if they do well.

Here's Michael Avenatti. You remember Michelle Obama, if they go high, we go low. I believe we cannot be the party any longer the turns the other cheeks. When they go low, I say we hit harder.

ELIANA JOHNSON, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, POLITICO: Look that clearly has been his strategy. The question in my mind about Avenatti is Trump was able to self-fund. I don't think Avenatti would be able to self- fund at the same level.

At the same time, he's gotten an enormous amount of free media. And he does -- and he's taken a lot of shots at the President. It's not clear to me that any of them have really landed. So, I don't think he has a great track record from which to run.

KING: Would you want to be one of his clients right now? In the sense that this is already come up during the Michael Cohen proceedings in New York where there was a question about whether Avenatti should be barred because he's always on television.

[12:50:00] And there was this no person involved in this action has been more ubiquitous in the media than Michael Avenatti. That was from a Federal judge who did give the order but who kind of told this to Avenatti to dial it back.

Now, anything he says in court for any client can be questioned as politically motivated, right?

VISER: Yes. And I think you're seeing the transition of his career, at this moment from a court-time lawyer to somebody arguing in public. But I do think that it illustrates the wide openness of this Democratic field, the fact that we will think about and talk about, and then will get written about the fact that Michael Avenatti is going to Iowa.

KING: So, to that point, let's be fair. The worker bees get frustrated when these "Celebrity candidates" get attention. There's a Congressman, Mr. Delaney, who's been at Iowa over and over and over again. He doesn't get a lot of attention.

Today, a Republican shows up at the Iowa State fair to help Congressman Delaney get a little attention. We have the picture, I hope.

The former Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner, shorts and boat shoes. He says Delaney is one of hi s old buds and showing up for -- a former Republican Speaker showing up to the Iowa State fair for a Democratic Congressman. OK.

RAJU: John Boehner is loving life right now. That's for sure. I don't think we'll see expect Delaney/Boehner 2020. That's probably a little bit of a stretch.

KING: Sure.

LERER: But nobody knows. We're in an era with new political rules. KING: Right.

LERER: Nobody quite knows what they are. So, you will see a lot of Democrats to just sort throwing out their theory of the case, throwing it up against the wall, and taking their shot.

KING: And John Boehner happily --

LERER: And we'll see who Paul Ryan shows up with.

KING: Who just Paul Ryan. So (INAUDIBLE) I like that, because he'll join Boehner in the era of new political rules.

LERER: Right.

KING: Up next for us, one year after Charlottesville, Kanye West, Spike Lee both on television saying very different things about President Trump and race.


[12:56:22] KING: Two prominent African-American celebrities and two very different takes on President Trump one year after the stain of Charlottesville.

Kanye West telling Jimmy Kimmel he continues to support the President and that he gets annoyed with African Americans who tell him that is unacceptable.


KANYE WEST, SINGER: Everyone around me tried to pick my candidate for me, and then told me every time I said I liked Trump that I couldn't say it out loud or my career would be over. I'd get kicked out the black community because blacks, we're supposed to have a monolithic thought. We can only -- black is going to only be Democrats.

And what it represented to me is that about policies and because I'm not a politician like that but represent -- it represented overcoming fear and doing what you felt no matter what anyone said. And saying you can't bully me. Liberals can't bully me. News can't bully me. The hip-hop community they can't bully me.


KING: Film maker Spike Lee said Charlottesville gave the President a chance to prove he wanted to bring the country together. Spike Les says instead the President stoked division.


SPIKE LEE, DIRECTOR, "BLACKKKLANSMAN": The President of the United States had a chance to denounce hate, hate groups. The whole world saw what happened, and he didn't do it. Since this guy's gotten in the White House, it's not even a dog whistle. It's a bull horn. And then also, Anderson, we've seen a rise of the right not just in America. It's worldwide.


KING: Interesting perspectives from both. Where are we a year later? And I just add this to the conversation, if I were the President, this would horrify me. Forty-nine percent yes, 47% no. The question, do you think Trump is a racist? Half the country thinks the President of the United States is a racist.

RAJU: It's stunning. I mean, the question is the President, is he concerned about that? When he talks about African-Americans, he often talks about how the unemployment levels are low.

He doesn't really get into anything beyond that. And does he need to come out and say something more publicly now that we're at the year anniversary of Charlottesville and there's no indication he will.

KING: And he has no tried to start any kind of a national dialogue or do it privately. And other way to do would be to bring some of your critics into the White House quietly and do it that way.

There was some talk he might do that after the NFL season last time. It hasn't happened. Instead, he's still picking fights, whether it's LeBron James and the basketball arena now the NFL players again today. That if your African-American communities say he's picking fights with black athletes.

VISER: And you can add to this list Omarosa has a new book out and was some tape where she's alleging that there are recording of him using racial slurs on them.

I mean, I think that there are added evidence of some of these racial hostilities. And I think we as a country generally have not had teaching moments on this issue. It's just been more division over racial issues, which the President has not let on.

LERER: I mean, look, he clearly thinks its good politics with his base. It's also clearly fairly divisive for the country.

JOHNSON: I don't think Trump intends his presidency to be about unity except in the sense of sort of recapturing an American identity that I think many African-Americans feel excludes them. I would add maybe Latinos to that. I think in the President's conception, it doesn't necessarily but he thrives on divisiveness.

KING: And then, to your point about Latinos and the Laura Ingraham comments from the news this week as well. If you're African- Americans, Latino, you think people, the President or people aligned with the President don't seem to factor us in, shall we say. Just want to know to your pointing the Omarosa about the White House putting out a statement, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders within this past hour condemning that book, denouncing that book. They have in the past denounced people who say they're going public with private information. They've not denounced their supporters though.

[13:00:03] Thank you for joining us today on "INSIDE POLITICS." We'll see you back here 8:00 a.m. Sunday, I hope.

Jim Acosta is in for "Wolf" today, he picks up our coverage right now. Have a great day.